This spoiler-free review of Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out might as well be subtitled, “How Pixar Got Its Groove Back.” That, of course, assumes that Pixar lost its groove in the first place. To this extent, a brief summary of Pixar’s recent history is probably in order. From the time it released Toy Story until a decade after, it seemed Pixar was infallible, and utterly incapable of making anything less than a brilliant film.
This led to some incredibly high standards among critics and moviegoers alike, all who expected more of Pixar films than those produced by other animation studios. While Pixar had always been a critical and commercial darling, the high water mark—for me at least—occurred with the back to back releases of Ratatouille and WALL-E, two films that really pushed the envelope for mainstream animation. This was especially true of WALL-E, which was defiant in terms of its restraint and subtlety. More importantly, the underlying message and motifs of WALL-E were thinly-veiled criticism of corporations like Disney and their core demographic, making me wonder, “who allowed this to be made in the first place?”
After Toy Story 3, the string of sequels and less-than-perfect films began, which roughly coincided with when films that weren’t in development when Disney purchased Pixar would have started to be released. Mind you, this supposed “string” is only three movies, and if these three movies were made by any other animation house, they probably would have been lauded (yes, even Cars 3) but Pixar was thought to be playing on a different level, and accordingly has been held to higher standards.
Enter Inside Out… (more…)