Inside Out is already accumulating praise throwing around the word masterpiece — and it is well-deserved.
Having seen it on opening day, I experienced a theater full of kids and parents whose heartstrings and brainstems were skillfully and sometimes painfully stimulated. Indeed, director Pete Docter appeared in a preface before the cerebral comedy reminding viewers that filmmakers like him, and in turn those at Pixar and its parent corporation Disney, create compelling work like Inside Out to “make us feel alive again.”
It has done that and more, as you could probably tell by the 98 percent certified fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. “A work of nifty craftsmanship and considerable complexity beneath its unassuming surface,” said Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, setting the tone for the film’s critical reception.
Inside Out is also “a defense of sorrow, an argument for the necessity of melancholy dressed in the bright colors of entertainment,” explained New York Times’ A.O. Scott, addressing the film’s neuroscience of emotion, honed with the help of UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner. “This is heady stuff,” added LA Weekly’s Amy Nicholson, “a more natural fit for a black-and-white Bergman than a kiddie caper.”
The ambitious artistry that went into Inside Out’s examined life was also in focus for critics. “Pixar’s tour of an 11-year-old girl’s head is a flat-out masterpiece that proves live action doesn’t have dibs on cinematic art,” explained Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers. “In the course of the whole year, there will probably be no American movie so concerned with looking inside, and so interested in the components of a meaningful life, as Inside Out,” said the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mick LaSalle.
Some critics, while impressed, held fast to Pixar’s past wonders in comparison. “Perhaps Pixar will never again reach the heights of its remarkable string of masterworks, Wall-E, Ratatouille, and Up,” said the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “The best of Inside Out comes close.”
But the mostly unanimous consensus was summed up well by Variety’s Peter Debruge, who argued that the film is not only a standalone masterpiece, but will also have ripple effects across audiences and the industry itself. “Pixar’s 15th feature proves to be the greatest idea the toon studio has ever had,” he said, which “promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think.”
If — and only if — you have seen the film, please feel free to report back with your own opinions in the comments below. The comments in this talkback are open only to those who have seen the film ad wish to share thoughtful opinions about their experience.