Inside OutU ¦ DVD, Blu-ray
Kids eh - can't live with them, can't list them on eBay when they do your head in. Shame that. For their latest animated tale, Pixar have decided to tippy-toe into the mind of an 11-year-old girl to reveal not just what she's thinking, but the process of producing these thoughts.
All is well in the world of young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias); she's happy living in Minnesota, where she has many friends and where she enjoys playing ice hockey. This calm equilibrium is soon disrupted however when she finds herself transported to from the comfort of her northerly state to the other side of the country - San Francisco.
It's a tough transition for not only her, but for the emotions in her head: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyliss Smith), Fear (Bull Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Joy is the most responsible emotion, and the one that tries her best to keep all the other emotions in check, which is never easy.
But when Riley finds herself crying on the first day of her new school, she's overwhelmed with sadness. This causes something the emotions have never had to deal with before, a sad core memory. To prevent this memory from being stored, and Riley having it in her memory forever, Joy attempts to get rid of it. However, this only finds herself and Sadness sucked up by the memory tube and fast-tracked from HQ to parts of Riley's mind they've never been to before. And with Joy not around to take control, it's left to Fear, Anger and Disgust to take charge of Riley; and as they soon discover, it's not as easy as Joy made it look.
For many, Pixar can do no wrong. And it's true the studio, now owned by Disney, has produced a number of ground-breaking animations during its fifteen years, including the Toy Story franchise, Up and Wall-E. In recent years however, their output (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University) has been less impressive. And unfortunately Inside Out continues this disappointing trend.
Although known for their originality, the premise of having a person controlled by tiny beings inside of them, is an old one. Back in the early sixties, a strip call The Numbskulls ran in the British comic The Beezer. The strip revolved around, you've guessed it, a bunch of beings who would control a human. Pixar may have the kind of CPU grunt power that would be the envy of any Bond villain, yet lose a massive amount of points on the originality front.
But it's not just the premise that lets the film down; its latest roster of animated characters are also on the bland side. They're just barely likeable, and quite some way from being as loveable as many Pixar favourites like Woody, Buzz, Sulley, Mike etc. It's certainly difficult to imagine any of them being at the top of any toy lists for the festive season, despite the heavy licensing to the likes of Sky TV and Subway to sell their wares. Perhaps if Pixar concentrated on making the film as good as it could possibly be, as opposed to how the characters could be used to flog broadband and sandwiches and the like, Inside Out might have been closer to being classic Pixar, as opposed to just run of the mill.
At times, the film alarmingly out-Disneys Disney, with the kind of sickeningly sweet scenes that could put a diabetic in a sugar coma for some time. Maybe that's the cost of being bought out by the big mouse; in fact it's fair to say that the studio's output has been in decline ever since Disney bought them in 2006.
If you want to keep some ankle biters quiet for 90 odd minutes, then Inside Out will do a fair job of it; other than that, it's unlikely to live long in the memory and be thought of as one of Pixar's best.