Friday, October 21, 2016

Inside Out

Inside Out; CGI animated fantasy comedy, USA, 2015; D: Pete Docter, S: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Back, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan

Five different emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger - often clash while trying to find some common ground in the mind and life of a 12-year old girl, Riley. When her parents move from Minnesota to San Francisco, Riley has trouble adjusting to her new environment and school. Due to a mistake, Joy and Sadness are ejected from her mind centre and land outside, in the subconscious, which causes imbalance in her behavior, since she can now only feel anger, disgust and fear. Joy and Sadness encounter Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary childhood friend in the form of a pink elephant, and manage to find their way back to the centre, thereby stopping Riley from fleeing to Minnesota and returning home.

"Inside Out" is a movie that enchants you so much in its first 30 minutes that you wish you could love it more than it actually deserves compared to its disappointing last 60 minutes. A blend of "The Numskulls" and "Osmosis Jones", "Inside Out" features a shrill concept of five different emotions clashing with each other while trying to shape the mind - and behavior - inside the head of a 12-year old girl, Riley, and in the opening act, it features a few wildly creative moments, especially refreshing in the irresistibly optimistic (humanoid) emotion of Joy, voiced brilliantly by Amy Poehler. Unfortunately, the problem with the movie is that it simply 'gives up' from this concept after the first 30 minutes, and then strays off into a subplot where Joy and Sadness are accidentally catapulted out of the mind centre, land in the subconscious area and thus have to find their way back to the centre. If you hoped that this "coming back subplot" will not be the whole rest of the film, you are wrong - "Inside Out" spends basically the whole rest of the film just on Joy and Sadness wandering through obscure places in the subconscious, stumbling upon vague, pointless encounters (a pink elephant which is Riley's imaginary friend; a dumpster for forgotten memories; a giant clown...) which is basically just a camouflage for the fact that the writers didn't know where to go with this story, and thus resorted to 'filler' in the form of the abstract.

There is only one inspired moment that justifies this long absence of Joy and Sadness, and that is when the remaining three emotions panic and Disgust pushes Fear to the control panel and says: "There! You be Joy now!" Unfortunately, the rest is just one empty walk to stretch the story into a feature film. Likewise, the finale is highly contrived, trying to impose the notion that *all* emotions are necessary for a human mind, when Sadness proves that she is useful, too. However, they never justified her usefulness. Wouldn't a person without sadness actually be better off? And without anger as well? Wouldn't a life with constant happiness be better? This is where they goofed: had they made Sadness into a different emotion, Love, then it would have all made sense. Not this, though. Near the end, Riley encounters a boy who has a crush on her, but is in fear of telling her. She also fleetingly meets a teenage girl who pretends to be hip, to hide her insecurities. Somehow it is difficult to shake off the impression that these two subplots would have been far more interesting - and cohesive - to develop than just Joy and Sadness 'hopscotch' through the ludicrous realm. Overall, more of a standard amusing film than a one that gives a true insight into the human spirit.


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