Am I the only critic-columnist willing to admit the plain truth about animated features (particularly Pixar-produced), which is that I fucking hate their energy levels…their relentlessly peppy and ultra-exaggerated mood elevations and hyper ping-ping-pinball physicality…which of course is deliberately injected so as to appeal to young kids? I can’t be the only film worshipper out there who feels this way, and yet I seem to be the only one actually saying it. Would you like to hear the truth? A significant portion of film critics feel exactly as I do but they can’t admit that because it would make them seem grouchy and out of touch and a candidate for replacement, and so they put on their 21st Century smiley face and down a few shots of Kool-Aid before seeing the next big animated Pixar feature.
Every respectful and admiring thing that I wrote last May about Inside Out was sincere, but I also had the character to admit that I didn’t like watching it very much. Which is more than can be said about a lot of the critics out there. Here’s what I said in a piece called “Inside Out: Clever, Adult-Level, Peppy, Not My Cup”:
“The praise being heaped upon Pete Docter‘s Inside Out (Disney, 6.19) is correct. It’s very fast and clever and superbly rendered. And surprisingly, even head-spinningly complex at times, which is to say adult-friendly. And rather touching at times. I was impressed, engaged and amused as far as it went, given my general loathing for animation.
“Docter and his team take a wowser idea — comedically depicting the push and pull within the head of Riley, a 10 year-old girl, that lead to various emotional states — and make it come alive with ingenious writing, animation and voicing. Riley’s every waking moment is processed and responded to by five primal instincts — joy, fear, anger, disgust (or what I prefer to call aesthetic distaste, which you need in order to develop good taste…just ask Francois Truffaut) and sadness. It’s a very fine film for what it is, and I have nothing to say against it except that I didn’t have a very good time watching it, but that’s me.
“I just can’t stand the broad, relentlessly peppy energy that family-friendly animation necessarily traffics in, and that’s fine. Some are calling Inside Out Pixar’s best ever, which all but assures a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination and very possibly a win nine months hence. Let it go at that.”