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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Movie Review - Inside Out

Inside Out (2015)
Featuring the vocal talents of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan
Directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen

When young Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) and her parents (Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan) have to move cross country to San Francisco, the middle schooler finds her life turned a bit upside down (or perhaps inside out is a more appropriate phrase).  Being a pre-teen, her emotions are always on edge and constantly changing and, as this latest entry into the Pixar pantheon informs us, this leads to a rather tricky job for the folks inside Riley's brain who have to control the tween's mood swings.  It certainly doesn't help that the effervescent Joy (Amy Poehler) is finding herself having to match wits with her counterparts Anger, Disgust, and Fear (Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader) while at the same time dealing with the fact that Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is taking a much more prominent place in Riley's life thanks to the move to the West Coast.

Inside Out is at its best when it aims for the funny bone.  There is much humor to be had inside the mind of a tween and the script is at its best when it mines for the comedy aspects.  Unfortunately -- and this is the film's one fault -- the flick falls a bit flat when it comes to the more dramatic side of things.  There were two obvious heart-tugging key moments in the film and neither felt as fleshed out as they needed to be in order to really make an impact.  It's certainly a bit disappointing and it keeps the film from garnering the effusive praise I'd like to laud upon it since nearly every single other element is close to perfection.

Perhaps most stunning about Inside Out is the collaboration between voice actors and animators to create two of the most well-thought-out characters I've seen in an animated movie in a long time in Joy and Sadness.  Amy Poehler is captivating as Joy, exuding a charm and ebullience that comes through in her voice from the moment we first hear her speak.  Coupled with the star-like quality of the way Joy looks -- she has no "fine lines" outlining her, but rather this sensation of "fuzzy light" creating a yellowish aura around her -- and you've got a tremendously memorable character.  Not only is Joy incredibly successful, but Sadness is just as marvelous.  Shaped almost like a teardrop, Phyllis Smith is vocally spot-on as the depressed, down-on-her-luck emotion.  And the repartee between these two characters is hilarious and elevates the film far beyond what I thought possible.

Pixar films never disappoint in the visuals department and that's the case here as well.  I've already discussed the lovely character design for Joy and Sadness, but rest assured that the same care and detail went into the development of the rest of the film's cast as well which while all caricatures of what we think emotions may look like or how they may act still succeeds tremendously.  Story-wise the film doesn't quite hit all the notes is aspires to (and that's due in part to a bit too lengthy middle act that never wears thin, but comes awfully close to overstaying its welcome), but overall Inside Out is a winner and one that I look forward to watching again in the near future.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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