Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Pixar use to rule the animation roost. They broke onto the scene back in 1995 with the critically acclaimed and universally adored Toy Story and then continued to knock it out of the park with the likes of Bugs Life, The Incredibles and Up. But recently they have been consistently dropping the ball with pointless sequels, Cars 2, lackluster prequels, Monsters University and sub par outings, Brave. It hasn't help that Dreamworks have had great success with the brilliant How To Train Your Dragon films and universal have had massive success with their Despicable me franchise. The new kids on the block, Laika, have been showing everyone how it's done too with . Yet many hoped that Pixar's latest offering, Inside Out, was proof that Pixar still have something up their sleeves and in a way they're right.

The film mostly takes place in the mind of 11 year old Riley and the five emotions, Joy (Amy Phoeler), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black). These five have the job of controlling Riley's emotions and feelings, storing her memories and maintaining her personality. And for eleven years they have been doing a great job, having enjoyed a blissful life in Minnesota but when Riley's dad decides to up and move to San Francisco for work her life quickly begins to fall apart as she stops loving hockey, cries in the classroom and discovers broccoli on pizza. It is left up to Joy to save the day. 

There is no doubt that this is one of Pixar's most imaginative and creative films in a long time, not surprising coming from Pete Docter, the director behind Up, but sadly that isn't always a recipe for greatness. The film has two stories running parallel, one taking place outside of Riley's mind and the other taking place within and this forces the film to balance the two, something it never quite achieves. On the outside the story is relateable and emotional but it is on the inside where the story fails. Due to Riley's emotional instability Sadness starts to have a breakdown causing her to contaminate core memories, important memories that are crucial to Riley's mental state, resulting in Sadness and Joy being sucked out of HQ and stuck in long term memory. The writers have a lot of fun with different cerebral concepts such as the subconscious, dreams, train of thought and imaginary friends but the story slowly becomes repetitively irritating as every time Joy and Sadness make to get back to HQ fails again and again. 

Pixar revert back to default mode with their odd pairing trope, think Marlin and Dory or Buzz and Woody or Mike and Scully, which quickly begins to feel stale and overdone. The writers spend so much time concentrating on Joy and Sadness, the other emotions get very little to play with. While Anger and Fear make an hilarious double act with some of the films' funniest lines, Disguist feels underutilised and poorly written. As for everyone in the real world Riley is the only person we spend time with, 

Inside Out continues the studio's traditional of blending adult humour and childish wonderment, the creation of imaginary friend Bing Bong is a joy, allowing children to be entertained with bright colours and cool concepts while adults will be able to laugh at just how well they have portrayed real life in animation. However, the film is in no way a masterpiece. The happily ever after ending doesn't sit well with the complex subject matter the film spends it's whole running time wrestling with and for a film that's premise is so different to your typical animated affair, it's message is as generic as ever. Inside Out creatively overpowers the studio's recent releases but that isn't a difficult task and while many have cited it as one of Pixar's best it reaches for the greatness of Wall-E and Up but sadly, it falls short.


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