Daily | Cannes 2015 | Pete Docter’s INSIDE OUT

Inside Out

‘Inside Out’

“On paper,” begins Variety‘s Peter Debruge, “Inside Out sounded like another lunatic gamble: an adventure that takes place entirely within the head of an 11-year-old girl, featuring her Emotions as characters—although if anyone could pull off a logline like that, it would be the team who made us care about rats who cook, toys that bond, and robots who fall in love. Sure enough, in execution, Pixar’s 15th feature proves to be the greatest idea the toon studio has ever had: a stunningly original concept that will not only delight and entertain the company’s massive worldwide audience, but also promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story.”

“It hasn’t anything as genuinely emotionally devastating as Up, or the subtlety and inspired subversion of Monsters Inc. and the Toy Stories which it certainly resembles at various stages,” finds the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw. “But it is certainly a terrifically likeable, ebullient and seductive piece of entertainment, taken at full-throttle. There is that sheen of pure professionalism that I associate with its executive producer and presiding deity, John Lasseter.”

The Playlist‘s Jessica Kiang notes that “to create the framework within which to deliver the desired thrills and spills, requires a lot of set up and exposition, which contributes to a voiceover-heavy introduction, and occasional pauses in the action while a character delivers a gobbit of explanation. It can feel didactic in a way that the let-the-pictures-tell-the-story elegance of Toy Story and [Pete] Docter’s own Up never did. And sometimes these hurried, on-the-fly explanations of why we have to go somewhere or what the the next goal is can draw attention to the film’s construction in a way that makes it feel less wondrously imagined than conveniently contrived. However, once the gigantic machine is up and running, these issues mostly fall away like booster engines from a space rocket, and the film, in the second half of its slim 94 minute run time, soars right into that Pixar-trademarked sweet spot in the tender area between deliriously happy and tremblingly sad.”

“Although the outward physical story of the script by Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley traces the difficult adjustment suffered by tomboyish 11-year-old hockey player Riley [voiced by Kaitlyn Dias] when she’s uprooted by her parents from an idyllic Minnesota life to an unfriendly San Francisco, the real setting is inside the girl’s head.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy: “It’s a highly combustible place, a control room staffed by the buoyant, blue-haired Joy [Amy Poehler]; squat, top-blowing Anger [Lewis Black]; purplish, equivocating Fear [Bill Hader]; green, eye-rolling Disgust [Mindy Kaling] and fire-plug squat, all-blue Sadness [Phyllis Smith].”

The Telegraph‘s Robbie Collin: “Pixar’s early work was heavily influenced by the films of the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and the fact that Inside Out’s plot is set in motion by a removal, with a pre-teen girl in the back of her family’s car apprehensively weighing up the fresh start she’s about to make, immediately connects it to Miyazaki’s 2001 masterpiece Spirited Away, which began with an identical set-up. And it’s far from the only thing they have in common: both films are about the last days of childhood, the point at which our inner lives must be broken and rebuilt if we’re to flourish as adults—and both describe this chaotic, terrifying process by plunging their heroines into fantastical, Jungian wonderlands of fairies, monsters and waking dreams.”

“There is no sentimental cushioning to this animated evocation of what it means to move on,” writes Sophie Monks Kaufman at Little White Lies. “As a coda, it’s also worth mentioning that in the credit bonus round, the film goes inside the mind of a cat, providing the best interpretation into the feline psyche that this writer has ever seen.”

Updates, 5/19: At the AV Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky find that Inside Out “trades the wordless gracefulness and sense of discovery of the animation studio’s best work for explanatory voice-over and nonstop exposition.” On the other hand, Docter’s Up “never managed to re-capture the pathos and wonder of its opening stretch, whereas this one grows more poignant as it gets further into Pepperland psychedelia… I can’t help but wish that something this conceptually out there were more visually adventurous.”

For Michał Oleszczyk at, “what this film does is quite unique: here’s a mainstream animation adventure that acknowledges, instead of denying, the complexity of human motivations, decisions and actions. As a result, the level of psychological subtlety achieved in Inside Out truly raises the bar for contemporary children’s animation.”

More from Kyle Buchanan (Vulture), Dave Calhoun (Time Out, 4/5), Donald Clarke (Irish Times), Charles Gant (Screen) and Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair).

Updates, 5/20: “I wasn’t crazy about the film’s look,” writes Grantland‘s Wesley Morris. “A lot of it has the aggressive brightness of radioactive candy. The darker, drabber colors, of this movie’s occasionally lifelike rendering of San Francisco, don’t have to strain to resonate. That seems strategic. This is the most thematically abstract American animated movie I’ve ever seen.”

Inside Out is “Pixar’s best since WALL•E, and one of the studio’s most interesting experiments both in terms of form and in terms of how to make animations that appeal to adults as well to children of various ages,” finds Jonathan Romney, writing for Sight & Sound. “It’s a strange phenomenon of recent cinema that even the hardest-hearted critics will admit to being moved to tears, of pleasure or pathos, by this studio’s finest output—and Inside Out shows you how it works. Just as Riley is literally operated by her passions, so the movie expertly manipulates our every sob and chuckle, and shows us that manipulation in action, as the Emotions pull their various tricks.”

Buzzfeed‘s Alison Willmore agrees that “you can call Inside Out a comeback, a return to form, a gratifying reminder that no one else would attempt to make a children’s tentpole movie about how emotional pain is just as essential a part of life as happiness—and no one else would be able to pull it off quite like this.”

At the Dissolve, Mike D’Angelo concurs that the film’s “comedy is tempered by an almost Buddhist insistence that undiluted joy is neither possible nor even necessarily desirable. Despite this wisdom, parents of young children are gonna be wrecked by Inside Out, which literalizes every fear they have about what will be lost as their kids hit adolescence. Even the film itself admits as much—buried deep in its closing credits is a contradictory message aimed at its makers’ kids: ‘Don’t grow up. Ever.'”

Update, 5/22: When the “narrative becomes a blah journey/quest for our characters,” Inside Out “stops being effortlessly magical and starts becoming a more perfunctory travelogue, more episodic than increasingly suspenseful (or even funny),” finds Tim Grierson, writing for Paste. “It’s easier to forgive Inside Out’s mid-movie drag, however, since Docter and his cowriters have come up with such a magnificent final stretch.”

Update, 5/23: “I find the best Pixar films completely emotionally effective, and I mean that they’re very manipulative,” says Jonathan Romney in Film Comment‘s first Cannes roundtable. “I know that something’s going to make me laugh or cry. It always happens, even when I try and distance myself. But this film actually shows you how it works: you see when they’re pressing the joy button or when they’re pressing the sad button…. There’s that strange, trippy moment where it deconstructs the image and basically shows you how CGI works. It’s an extraordinary film that’s given me more intense pleasure than anything else here.”

Update, 5/25: Anne Thompson talks with Docter.

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