Now, don’t let that last bit scare you away from this great film. Top to bottom Inside Out is an immaculate piece of filmmaking. It looks incredible, the themes are wonderfully realized, the voice acting is top-notch, there is a great balance between pathos and humor, it has everything you come to expect from the best of Pixar. The only negative, and it isn’t even that negative, thing I can say about the film is that its predictability keeps it from joining the upper echelon of Pixar films. And this complaint isn’t even that fair as the film isn’t telling a traditional Pixar adventure film that all of their films fall into.
Yes, Joy is on an adventure to get back to Riley’s HEADquarters (get it) and replace her core memories to their rightful place, but this is an adventure every viewer over the age of 11 has already been on; growing up. Framing the film around a child’s psyche as it evolves into something more complex is a wonderful idea and Pete Docter and his team execute it flawlessly. The execution is so flawless, the plot so meticulously crafted, that things can only really go one way; hence the predictability. Between the film’s expert storytelling and the fact that a large portion of the audience understands what Riley is going through before we even sit down in the theater means we can not share in Joy’s sense of confusion and discovery. This doesn’t mean the film isn’t enjoyable, it is immensely so, but this is why I didn’t get lost in the film and instead saw almost every beat coming. I wonder how younger kids will react to this film, but I imagine they will embrace sadness as a part of their emotional core better than any generation that came before them.
Enough “complaining” because Inside Out really is something special. Outside that long two paragraph digression of complaining about a film for being too perfect, I could go on and on about all of the wonderful things in this film. The Dream Theater, Bing Bong, the colors, Bill Hader and Lewis Black, that clown, the gum jingle, a cat’s brain, Amy Poehler!, the imagination on display at every turn is something to behold. In fact, the world of Riley’s brain is populated by a bevy of interesting characters and ideas that are perfectly plotted out and are full of life. I wish we got to spend more time with all of the little minions running around Riley’s head. A second viewing is sure to showcase even more great bits jammed into this world, I also wonder how the film will play when I know that the film isn’t all about some mystery to be uncovered or the next turn of some grand adventure.
Inside Out is another great film from Pixar. Just because it sits lower on the shelf than the best of their best, doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best films you will probably watch this year. Gorgeous, funny, smart and imaginative is a good place to start when talking about Inside Out, I’m sure you will find plenty more superlatives to add once you see it for yourself.