Saturday, July 4, 2015

Inside Out - Review

Inside Out - Review

From the geniuses at Pixar Studio who brought to the big screen such financially successful and notably acclaimed animated feature films as “Toy Story”, “Monsters, Inc.”,  “Finding Nemo”, “Ratatouille”, and “Wall – E”, they now offer up their latest imaginative effort called “Inside Out”.

The story begins with the telling of an infant girl born to loving parents in Minnesota who they name “Riley”. Riley is typical of new born infants; that being outside of crying, she like most new born infants are somewhat devoid of any real outward expressive emotions until eventually over a short period of time they start to recognize the faces and voices of their parents which helps them learn their very first expressive emotion in the form of a loving smile. And it is with that first emotional spark in Riley’s early life and expressive growth we see her lifelong emotional development in the forms of 5 basic emotional “worker-bees” who live inside of her maturity headquarters (so to speak). They’re job is to be ever diligent in working to add and or subtracted the right balance of range of emotions with the ultimate goal of helping Riley have a long, happy, joyous and loving life.  Sounds complicated? It’s not.

But as we all know in real life, as I am certain we can recall our own emotional experiences and journeys the growing up part and managing emotions can be a tough road that is filled with bumps along the way. With Riley we see early on there are no exceptions for her either when she finds out about age 10 or so she is being uprooted from her Midwest comfortable life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco.

“Riley’s headquarter emotional worker-bees” know what is at stake and begin to work especially hard “inside of her” to make sure her “outside” emotions remain generally happy and upbeat. So guided by her core emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) they all begin to try to guide her in this new transition of life of having to leave her friends, team mates and the natural environment of Minnesota to help navigate her emotions in a new city, a new house, a new school and new friends. Got it? Sure you did.

PROS: The conceptualization of this film by attempting to explore adolescence emotions and emotional maturity is nothing short of genius here, especially in how young children learn to balance out the maturity pendulum swings of life in the form of either pure joy and or pure crisis. “Inside Out” is not an animated drama as it is very funny throughout, but its real creative genius lies in how they were able to tell this story so effectively by not making it into some animated dramatic episode on the Dr. Phil Show. Instead I left the theater wondering who the incredible minds were that mange to conceived this fantastic film idea and then take the meticulous effort of putting it all together in the form of a wonderfully warm, funny, joyous, educational and informative script of how we all grow up as children.

CONS: None really other than I saw some infant children in the ages of 5 - 7 years old in the theater that in my estimation won’t get the gist of the plot about maturing human emotions. However for kids 8 -15 this is a cinematic treasure to all parents and should be required viewing for those with kids this age.

CONCLUSIONS: “Inside Out” is one of the most imaginative and inventive films whether animation or not I have ever seen. With its highly visual expressive rich colors, the real strength of this film is in the details of showcasing the joys, the pitfalls and the eventual joys again of emotional growth. “Inside Out” is uniquely adroit in its navigation for 90 minutes in delving into child psychology of how we learn to developed friendships, how we manage the complexity of family dynamics,  the vibrancy and effects of basic human joy and the range of emotions we may have from anxiety to anger that are sometimes associated with sadness.

Words and expressions like master piece, impeccably made, cinematically entertaining, humorous beyond what it should have been (given the subject), outright silly and funny, directorially unpredictable, delightful and exciting to watch easily come to my mind and in the end emotionally resonated for me. It reached well beyond the simply task of getting me to go see an entertaining movie. Instead it surprised me big time, by challenged me which ultimately delighted me the entire way through.

Finally, two points. Point one, I have to say how much this entire cast put so much expressive verbal energy into this film, especially Amy Poehler who if you should see this in the theater she is in fact the star in the form of the emotion “Joy”. It takes real talent to read lines and make them sound like sounds we associate daily when we hear what we think are the sounds of someone actually being happy and filled with joy, She was nothing short of superb here and while the Academy will never nominate her for doing animation voice over, I think her performance is truly worthy of an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She is that good.

Point two, if you think this is still some kiddy movie you would be so wrong. This film worked for me and I encourage you all if you like quality films regardless of the format as I do, to go see it in the theater. I am almost 100% certain it will be nominated for both overall Best Picture and Best Animation film and could be the rare animation film that could seriously challenge to win Oscar gold in both categories.  

To paraphrase a line from the singer Nat King Cole's legendary song “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire), Pixar has executed a masterful film for the kid in all of us “from 1 to 92”. 

4 Stars Plus

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