I’m not a big watcher of movies on planes, or on iPhones or iPads or computers – basically anything that’s not an actual movie screen, or at least a big screen TV. I just don’t feel you can experience the film the way it was intended in less than ideal circumstances. But . . . I was on a transatlantic flight with my wife and two-year-old daughter, and I had 90 minutes of time all to myself (and I enjoy sleeping on planes even less than watching movies on them). So Inside Out it was. And even under those less-than-ideal circumstances, I loved it.
First, I love high concept films. In another life, Inside Out could have been a Michael Gondry film (it has more in common with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind than you might think). There were some complaints that the opening was too expository, but this is a kids’ movie and kids are not going to enjoy figuring this out the way I did Eternal Sunshine.
Along those lines, I appreciate that Inside Out is very much a kids’ movie. I haven’t seen some of the more objectionable kids’ fare – my daughter is thankfully still too young for that – but watching the Shrek series and reading reviews of kids’ movies (because I obsessively read the reviews of EVERY movie released) exposed me to a world of pandering: innuendo and pop-culture riffs for the grownups, and beyond juvenile humor for the kids. Pixar films have never had any of that (consider the trash compactor scene in Toy Story 3, and this review which nicely encapsulates its lack of pandering), and Inside Out is no exception.
And while I enjoy the concept and wholesomeness, that’s not why I seek out Pixar films these days. I know what a cathartic experience they are for adults, and I have been choked up at most and in tears at a few (Up and Monsters, Inc., both written and directed by Pete Docter, as is Inside Out). But I wasn’t prepared for Inside Out. Maybe it’s being a father, maybe it’s nostalgia for my own childhood, maybe it’s the fact that Pixar always finds pathos without resorting to cheap tricks. Whatever the reason, it devastated me.
I was able to hide most of my tears for Bing Bong, but the ending found me weeping openly, my daughter repeatedly asking “What’s wrong with Daddy?” and my wife – along with several passengers – looking at me like I was insane. Maybe that’s why I prefer watching movies in the theater: no one can see me cry.