Film Review: Inside Out

INSIDE OUT

Inside Out is a charming animated feature, delivering Disney Pixar’s winning formula at its best.

Young Riley is uprooted from her comfortable home and life when her father gets a work opportunity in San Francisco. The emotions in her mind attempt to navigate this upheaval in her life…

Director and co-writer Peter Docter has created a wonderfully inventive film with Inside Out. The film is warm and engaging in its story, and creative with its ideas. The core idea of having emotions as characters in a brain control room works remarkably well, as do the other aspects of the mind that Inside Out explores. The emotion characters function to give a zany explanation of how the brain works, in a way which provides a good source of humour.

Like other Pixar productions, Inside Out is successful thanks to its blend of comedy and emotion. The film speaks about life in a way that young children are able to comprehend, but adults will also find immensely relatable. As the main human character, Riley is drawn to be sympathetic and believable young girl. The emotions bounce of each other well. There is a nice juxtaposition between Joy and Sadness. As the film continues, the progression of this relationship is pleasing to watch.

Ultimately, Inside Out is a film about growing up. The protagonist’s journey is a slight one, but most viewers will be able to identify with her. There are elements of the film that will hark back to childhood in a way that is charming and nostalgic. Emotional moments in Inside Out are handled with the same care as exhibited in Up, WALL-E and other Pixar greats.

Animation in Inside Out is a slick as ever, and there are some wonderfully designed elements in the other worlds depicted in the film. Voice work is also good, with Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith and Mindy Kaling providing distinctive voices for the emotions.

It is unlikely that many viewers will come away disappointed from watching Inside Out. A wonderfully enjoyable film.

Film Review: Brave

Disney Pixar’s Brave is visually sumptuous, much like other animated features from the company. Unlike their recent films however, this Scotland-set tale does not pack the same emotional punch.

Merida is a princess who prefers to practice archery than to be schooled in the customs of her position by her mother. When the ritual of her betrothal approaches, Merida is dead set against the traditions of selecting a husband. Merida and her mother clash, with some disastrous consequences…

Brave adheres to some family tropes, in terms of the animated Disney feature. Merida’s struggle is between following her own wishes and bearing the weight of responsibility that her position calls for. This tension is at play in most Disney animated films. Moreover, a parental clash is at the centre of Brave; not unlike The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas and others.

Brave differentiates itself from previous Disney efforts in a pivotal way. The emphasis in most of these films is in having the freedom to find happiness. This usually relates to a partner of choice, rather than one the protagonist’s standing demands. Brave distinguishes itself, and perhaps heralds a new era in Disney thinking, by featuring a protagonist who is happy in her independence and has no desire to marry. It is this aspect of the film, which is played out openly but not forcefully, that is most refreshing.

This recent effort from Disney Pixar does however lack the emotional pull of WALL-E, Toy Story 3 and others. The story is engaging enough, and unfolds to include fantasy and legend. Notwithstanding, it does not evoke the type of strong emotion that the aforementioned films excel at inspiring. That is not to say Brave is a bad film in any way, but merely that it is unlikely that viewers will form the same kind of attachment to it.

The animation in Brave is fantastic. The use of colour is superb, with the vibrancy of Merida’s hair contrasting nicely with the greener backdrops. Some great voice work is provided by Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson and others.

Brave is an enjoyable family film that should satisfy viewers. It is unlikely to take on classic status, unlike several of Disney Pixar’s films of the last decade.