Sunday, May 31, 2015

Events: Inside Out Film Review (Attending the May 29th NYC Advanced Screening)

disney pixar inside out film review

This past Friday, May 29th, my wife Brita and I had the incredible opportunity to see Disney·Pixar's brand new film Inside Out- a full three weeks before the film is released nationwide. The special advanced screening was presented by New York City's SVA (School of Visual Arts) theater and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; it was the closing night event of The Academy's "Animation Showcase." If that wasn't already cool enough, Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera also joined us for the film, followed by a live Q&A! Outside of the Cannes Film Festival and Pixar Studios, they said this was the first audience to see the entire film. Yes, this was a Pixar fan's dream come true.

Given we live just about an hour away from NYC (and that the tickets were only $5), I didn't even flinch before purchasing tickets the moment I saw them go up online. When the day finally came on Friday to head there, it felt unreal or too good to be true! In the end, the trip was absolutely perfect and everything went down without a hitch. I'm thrilled to be able to share our experience with you!

I'll first include some pictures leading up to the main event followed by a lengthy semi-spoiler free review of the film. Enjoy!

disney pixar inside out film review
On the train wearing our festive shirts for the premiere!
Arriving at Grand Central Station! Had a good Chinese food lunch there in honor of the family dinner scene in the film.
Part of our 30 minute walk through the city to get to the theater.
Inside Out ad on a taxi...very appropriate for the occasion.
At this point things got real! We arrived at around 3 and were the second in line.
disney pixar inside out film review
Here's the line that accumulated behind us.
So honored to have met a fan of my blog, Ryan Hirsh! Really good times.
Getting in! They started seating us around 6.
disney pixar inside out film review
Got my favorite place to sit during a movie...smack dab in the middle!
The trio of seats awaiting the interviewer, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera.
disney pixar inside out film review pete docter
The Docter is in the house!
disney pixar inside out film review
Trying not to geek out...but come on. It's Pete Docter! He's the man.


That's right. As a special bonus surprise before Inside Out began, we were treated to Lava, the short film that will be attached to Inside Out in theaters (directed by James Ford Murphy). Let me tell you, this is a gorgeous film. The story is a very simple love story (it could, and will, be compared to other recent shorts such as The Blue Umbrella or Disney's Paperman- but with volcanoes), however that didn't bother me one bit.

Visually, this is such a stunning film to look at and I was instantly captivated by it the moment it started. The original song that plays throughout is beautiful and catchy, the scenery/animation is breathtaking and is, overall, a very peaceful, soothing film from start to finish. I absolutely love the tranquility of Hawaiian culture and this short captures the essence of that with perfection. While watching the film and listening to the sounds and the music, I could almost smell the salty ocean air and feel the warm North Pacific breeze...that's how well these filmmakers did their job.

I had been looking forward to Lava for quite some time and it did not disappoint. My hat goes off to the director and entire team who brought the film to life with such elegance.



Note: Though no plot points are discussed here, I do touch on some of the main themes and messages of the film. If you're looking to avoid all aspects of the story, I would wait and read this review after you've seen the film yourself. 

Wow, where do I begin? I'll start off by saying this movie is a technical masterpiece with groundbreaking animation, lighting and effects...but, it's much more than that.

Inside Out is an extremely special film. I'm getting chills just thinking about it as I type. If anyone knows me well enough, they know one of my core personality traits is that I'm a very nostalgic person. My childhood and memories of my childhood mean everything to me. As I was growing up, I even remember being in tears a few times...about growing up. I wanted to be a kid forever. In fact, to a certain extent, that's how I am still today even at 25 (and is one of the reasons, I think, for my love of toys and collecting); so naturally a film that ultimately depicts the beginning of the end of childhood, change and growing up really hit home for me. However, not just anyone could have made a film with this subject matter and make it work, but Pete Docter and his creative team at Pixar did it and did it even better than I had hoped.

I had been looking forward to this movie for years. I remember when I first heard about the "Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside The Mind" and thought "now that's a Pixar film if I've ever heard one." I knew even back then that it would be fantastic, but was cautiously optimistic just in case. I didn't want to over-hype myself  in case of disappointment in the same way I don't want to over-hype it for you reading this right now; but I can't help it. I say: Believe the hype.

As soon as the Disney logos came on with the beautiful brand new musical score by composer Michael Giacchino, I already started to feel it. The movie hadn't even started yet and I was sold. The movie then's funny, sweet, witty, goofy, and beautiful all within the first few minutes and it only gets better as it goes along. The pacing is swift (but never feels too overly rushed) and never lingers on any one scene, yet there is still time for some of Pixar's more quiet and poignant moments. The way that the mind works in this particular world is told simply enough so that any age could understand it, yet complex enough that you could spend hours talking about it after the movie is done. Like Pixar does best, much of it is explained visually, without having to rely on much confusing, dialogue driven exposition.With that said though, it's still a complex and multi layered film.

As usual, Pixar has created new lovable, colorful, iconic characters and has crafted a meaningful story line that will change the way you think about how the mind works and how you view emotions. A family member recently asked me: "but why is there only one positive emotion?" To that I told them "just wait and see the movie..." This film teaches us the importance and power of each emotion; that sometimes we need to be sad and that's OK. Without sadness, there would be no joy. Everything needs to have opposites in order for us to see the positive in life. Each emotion has its place, but we should not let only one of them take over and drive us. It's all about finding the right balance, which we learn more of as we grow and as our minds become more complex.

The film is magical and whimsical. Laugh out loud hilarious and charming. Strange at times, yet captivating. Touching, though never sappy, cheesy or preachy. Memorable and thought-provoking. Does the story have heart? You better believe it. Does it have emotion? Absolutely- in fact, five of them. Somehow, Pixar has created a near-perfect balance of all these things, when it could have been extremely easy for them to take this story, situations and/or the emotion characters too far or over the top.

There is just something so pure and honest about this film. Inside Out is nothing short of brilliant. It is a dang smart and very clever movie with countless relatable gags and moments that will keep you chuckling for days (I'll give you one hint- gum commercial). It's hard to get out of your head once you've seen it. My wife and I keep saying to each other "I can't stop thinking about the movie! " and then we'll talk even more about it. Brita and I wanted to see it again as soon as it ended to catch many of the details we probably missed (Brita never wants to see a movie more than once, so that is really saying something). It's one of those rare movies that we'll be able to watch many years from now and still catch something new and funny each time.

You might be saying "But you're 'Dan the Pixar Fan'! Aren't you biased?" Maybe, but I also know a great film when I see one (Pixar or not) and this is a great film and another Pixar success in my book. I know a film is working for me when one of my main complaints is "I wish it was longer!" and that was the case here. It's definitely a whirlwind of a movie that seems to come and go in a flash. I recommend staying through the credits after; you'll need that time (and perhaps a few more hours) to soak it all in.

As they say...An instant classic! This bittersweet film will be captivating and inspiring the young and old alike for many, many years to come.


As a bonus, enjoy the 30 minute Q&A session with director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera that took place after the film! Excuse the sound quality since I just had my cell phone to record with.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. Listen at your own risk.

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