Pixar Animation Studios delayed its animated feature The Good Dinosaur from its original 2014 release date to Fall 2015; hence, there hasn't been a new Pixar film released since June 2013 (when Monsters University opened in theaters). That has only heightened anticipation levels - and, in turn, interest as well as expectations - for the award-winning animation studios' latest project, Inside Out, from Oscar-winning Monsters, Inc. and Up director Peter Docter.
Inside Out unfolds largely from the perspectives of five emotions - Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), and Anger (Lewis Black) - which govern the mind of eleven-year old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), as she and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco. The movie was shown out of competition during the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and thus the first wave of reviews for the animated feature have been published online just over a month ahead of its theatrical bow (at the time of writing this).
Inside Out, which Docter co-directed with Ronald Del Carmen (storyboard artist on Ratatouille) and co-wrote with Megan LeFauve (who'll co-write Captain Marvel next), is only the second non-sequel/prequel that Pixar has released in the last five years (after Brave). It's for related reasons that, after the critical disappointment Cars 2 and solid (but not great) receptions for Brave and Monsters University, Inside Out has been heralded as a potential return to the high-level quality of original storytelling that Pixar made its name with.
It remains to be seen if the story changes once the movie opens in theaters, but reactions from Inside Out's Cannes showing indicate the film is, in fact, such a return to form for Pixar - not to mention, the studio's best work since Toy Story 3. You can read excerpts from the first wave of Inside Out reviews below, after the trailer (for the full review, click the corresponding link).
The Wrap - Steve Pond
Docter, whose previous work directing “Up” and “Monsters Inc.” place him near the very top of Pixar’s extraordinary stable of directors, has figured out how to pull off a daunting concept, and in the process made a movie as thematically daring as it is emotionally moving.
Coming Soon - Edward Douglas
As we’ve come to expect from Pixar, Inside Out is another gorgeous, colorful film that often makes you forget you’re watching animation. Inside Out is a bittersweet look at childhood’s end that might be Pixar’s most layered and complex film since Ratatouille.
HitFix - Gregory Ellwood
The dramatic elements of “Inside Out” will stick with you, but don’t fear. The humor is palpable... And when Docter depicts the emotions in people outside Riley’s family? It only serves to answer the main question we asked at the beginning of this review. You can make a coherent, entertaining and moving experience out of this concept as a feature length film and it can be very, very good.
Variety - Peter Debruge
[In] execution, Pixar’s 15th feature proves to be the greatest idea the toon studio has ever had: a stunningly original concept that will not only delight and entertain the company’s massive worldwide audience, but also promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story.
The Guardian - Peter Bradshaw
This movie is a sweet-natured coming-of-age comedy, a kind of tween-transition crisis, though with a fundamentally sunny Disneyfied worldview. It hasn’t anything as genuinely emotionally devastating as Up, or the subtlety and inspired subversion of Monsters Inc. and the Toy Stories which it certainly resembles at various stages. But it is certainly a terrifically likeable, ebullient and seductive piece of entertainment, taken at full-throttle.
Indiewire - Jessica Kiang
Pretty to look at (the real world segments especially are among the loveliest animations the studio have ever done) the film is not quite the perfection of Pixar's greatest output but no matter how much you may put your dukes up to a movie so shamelessly manipulative, you will be disarmed. Not only because the film is so overtly about emotional manipulation, but also because, for all the Disneyfication of Pixar that we fear... "Inside Out" is not just fun and breezy, it's also truly weird and wicked smart in its thoroughly heartfelt conclusions.
Irish Times - Donald Clarke
A Numbskulls for the digital generation, Inside Out is funny enough, sweet enough and wise enough to sit in an adjacent room to Up and WALL-E. It is not in the same class as those films, but the team is clearly back on the right road.
It sounds as though Inside Out will be able to hold its head up alongside past Pixar greats - even if it's not quite received as being an instant classic, during its initial reception. It's not just the movie's brainy (no pun intended) narrative concepts and gorgeous computer animation that are being praised by critics; Inside Out's main cast (in particular, Phyllis Smith and Lewis Black) have already gotten notice for delivering vocal performances that are equally important in bringing the film's character to vivid life as the digital brushstrokes.
The short of it: Inside Out is poised to deliver what pretty much everyone loves about Pixar films, in significant portions, no less. Docter's film might appeal to adult moviegoers as much (if not more so) than the younger crowd, so this is seemingly one summer animated feature that should be able to attract a sizable audience at the box office - especially since it will have a couple weeks' head-start on Summer 2015's other big 'toon offering, Minions, and won't have much direct competition, otherwise.
Inside Out opens in U.S. theaters on June 19th, 2015.