Donnerstag, 1. Oktober 2015
Inside Out - pro & con (with Seymour Gris)
(Originally appeared in EXBERLINER on Oct. 1, 2015)
Pro: Brain meets heart
While other major animation studios cash in on the family audience by churning out harmlessly simple-minded money-making babies year after year, Pixar has always prided itself in its more innovative, sophisticated offerings. With Inside Out, yet another title can be added to that catalogue of hugely entertaining, glowingly original creations.
Instead of going into outer space with a robot or looking for a fish across the ocean, this adventure takes place inside young girl Riley’s head, where emotions are personified and scrambling to adjust after their host gets uprooted from her life in the Midwest. With childlike exuberance and deceptively naïve design, the film visualises the mysterious workings of human consciousness and some of the most primal, often difficult changes we all go through as adulthood approaches and innocence fades. The depictions might seem crude at times, but the ideas behind them carry such truth you can’t help but be reminded, enchanted, touched.
Bursting with empathy and heart, this wildly imaginative film is not just a rollercoaster ride full of delights and pitfalls. It’s a proper celebration of everything that makes us the thinking, dreaming, profoundly imperfect, impossibly complex creatures that we are.
Con: Wrong-headed (by Seymour Gris)
In Pixar’s latest feel-good frenzy, we experience 10-year-old Riley’s inner world as she goes through an oh-so-traumatic move from a safe small town to scary San Francisco. We’re privy to her inner turmoil shown as a garish fantasyland with a control centre operated by five obnoxious multi-coloured characters: the emotions of Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Disgust.
The manic blue-haired Joy is boss, naturally. As things go haywire, Joy journeys through Riley’s mindscape, rides the “train of thought”, stumbles through a Hollywood-esque Dream Factory and falls into the dark chasm of the unconscious. All very inventive and cute, but the way this is sold to us as being inspired by the latest psychology research is highly irritating, as is the unavoidable message that nerdy, spectacled Sadness turns out to be the saviour. “It’s okay to be sad!” the film screams, like a pedantic educational video.
Let’s get real: Inside Out is a mildly entertaining ride, but none of it really makes any sense. The structures of Riley’s psyche seem arbitrarily fantastical, a patchwork of the past century’s theories. Freud? Jung? Behaviourism? Whatever! Is this supposed to appeal to sensitive parents set on raising emotionally literate brats? Judging by audiences at theatres, it surely appeals to ‘kidults’ who relish having their children’s emotions explained to them served up on a pop-psychology plate.