Friday, July 10, 2015

Concerning "Inside Out" - and "concerning" is the Operative Word

Regarding "Inside Out" - I attended a two-day Pixar "masterclass" seminar in Toronto a few years back, and have just finished reading an extensive analysis on the Pixar methods in Jonah Lehrer's book, "Imagine," where committees gather for long breakfasts to dissect seconds-long shots frame-by-frame.  "Inside Out" suffers from that sort of over-thinking (how many meetings were held to pick "just the right shade of green" for sadness?). 
The technique and craft are there, almost shockingly realistic in the girl's hockey game moments, but soooooo much effort is spent for us to "understand" Sadness, that Sadness starts sucking the life from the story: it takes cutaways to what the parents' minds are processing to slice some of the melancholy and pre-pubescent angst out of the air.
There are many setups in the school scenes to explore - the cliques, the classroom, the sudden appearance in the second act of the girl's imaginary friend (couldn't a meeting have been held to nudge this character into the beginning to reduce exposition later on?) - but this "What Dreams May Come" for tweens gives slow-motion crumbling of personality islands and repetitive starts and stops in the story instead. 
Some of the music seems committee-determined as well, with "It Only Takes a Moment" creeping out of the background (another "Hello Dolly" reference? A "Wall-E" connection for some internet flowchart?).  Emotionally, it tugged the right strings, but "Inside Out" seemed a LOT longer than its 94 minutes. 
And, as if to confirm my suspicions before the final credits, came visuals of the emotions within some of the  background characters and even a few random animals -- and then, suddenly, briefly, and after an hour and a half, I experienced a Pixar movie.

("Lava" as a pre-film, however, was a stunner - something about ukeleles blends wistful joy and melancholy  so effectively.)