Sunday, August 02, 2015

Inside Out - in the right headspace

movie review

Inside Out takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster

Inside Out

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan
Directed by: Pete Docter
Tagline: Meet the little voices inside your head.

Over the years, Pixar has taken us on many exciting animated adventures brimming with imaginative spins and heart-warming emotions. While the last few offerings from the animation powerhouse lacked the creativity and charm that made their earlier output so special, the studio is now trying to reclaim its place atop the animation throne with its latest offering Inside Out.

Directed by Pete Docter, the film takes us inside the head of 11-year-old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), who is abruptly uprooted after her family relocates from Minnesota to San Francisco. As she tries to adjust to her new life, her anthropomorphised emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black) — scuttle behind the control booth in her mind, helping her deal with each developing situation. But things go wrong after Joy and Sadness, along with Riley’s core memories, are accidentally purged from the control room. They must then find their way back to the headquarters and restore order in Riley’s universe.

With a basic premise akin to ’90s sitcom Herman’s Head, the film doesn’t exactly explore a novel idea or create something conceptually unique, but it does handle its themes competently. Its take on the effects of change, growing up, and the importance of all emotions make for an intriguing journey. The film’s underlying plot, however, is a tad thin, which is why the proceedings start to feel a bit slow and repetitive as it wanders into a labyrinth of melancholy in its second half. Depending on individual preference, some viewers may not be as invested in the drama as others; the storyline may not hold the attention of restless youngsters, and its ideas and execution may seem too reductive and literal to finicky older viewers.

The animation itself is top notch, albeit not particularly inventive. The actors who voice each character, Poehler, Smith and Black in particular, give impressive performances and are perfect for each role, but their voices can also be a bit distracting if you are a regular viewer of Parks and Recreation, The Office, or The Daily Show, respectively.

Ultimately, while it isn’t as clever or as amusing as films like Finding Nemo, Up, WALL-E, and Ratatouille and may not rank among Pixar’s best, Inside Out is practically a breath of fresh air in the studio’s sequel-saturated line-up and marks a step in the right direction for the Disney subsidiary. The movie is touching, and even though it delivers its message through what is basically just a tale of growing pains, its emotional resonance, poignant moments and intriguing setting elevate Inside Out into an interesting viewing experience.

- By Sameen Amer

Sunday Magazine, The Express Tribune - 2nd of August, 2015 *

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