Inside Out hits cinemas on Friday. The previews are charming and endearing. With an all-star voice cast including Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler as the film's protagonist, Joy, and The Office's Phyllis Smith as Sadness, and the A-level animation that Disney and Pixar are renowned for, Inside Out is a film that will speak to many and can certainly bring a smile and laugh to its audience. But the key question is -- who is it's target audience?
When I saw Inside Out at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, my friend C and I had a great time. We are in our 20s and 30s and were impressed with the excellent and colorful animation and dialogue. The characters were cute and likeable and we had occasion for numerous laughs and even a few tears during those heart-squeezing moments.
However... I have to wonder if this is the right show to take your younger children to. Before you object and say that this is a Disney/Pixar film and made by the same people who brought us the family friendly Monster's, Inc., Toy Story and Ratatouille. Yet, these are also the people who brought us WALL-E, the film that despite its cuteness was heavily handed when it came to its storyline about environmentalism and consumerism. And Inside Out plays along the same lines as WALL-E this time focusing on human psychology. And there in lies the film's problematic issues. The story's emotions (including Joy and Sadness) appear to be in complete control of, the human child, Riley's every action and choice -- and without giving away any spoilers, it was as if Riley was being steered left and right without any free will.
So... is this film appropriate for children? I would caution parents before a first viewing with the family because of the story's themes. Perhaps parents could check out the film first on a date night? Also, if you do let your kids see the film it might be helpful to grab a bite to eat afterwards to discuss any forthcoming questions. SPOILER: There are a few intimidating and scary scenes, including one w/ a gigantic clown, that might freak some young ones.
On the other hand, all adults should be able to enjoy this film. The humor is age-appropriate, the topic is tear-inducing at the best moments, and the animation is extremely well-done.
Rated: PG for mild thematic elements and some scenes.
Don't forget to check out my previous post about the great family friendly recipes inspired by Inside Out.
Disclaimer: I was invited to a media screening of Inside Out but all opinions are my own.