A Superb Animation Film For Grown-Ups
Pixar is amazing. And your kids can watch Toy Story, Monsters Inc and other films again and again. But this film is far too grown up for kids. Every value, every idea, every clever execution is beyond the comprehension of kids. It's fabulous animation, don't get me wrong. But it's a grown up movie.
This is a grown up movie trying to be cute because animation is meant primarily for kids. Let me explain.
Let's look at the characters. 'Oh-so cute they are!' is what you will exclaim as you make a beeline to buy the plushies. The little ones are crying already because self-styled leader Joy is picking on Sadness and telling her to not touch things, 'Mommy, Joy is like you!' the kids are saying, 'Telling Sadness to not touch this, not touch that.'
So now mommy feels more like Kill Joy rather than 'Joy', and kids have identified themselves with Sadness. And it's true, because mommies are forever dragging kids to where ever they want to go. Joy literally drags Sadness back to headquarters (home!), while Sadness just wants to touch everything and turn it blue.
That brings us to the story. How amazing the whole idea is! Emotions monitor everything the eleven year old Riley goes through and help her get through the day. But there's a second story that's going on inside the head, which is so grown up. Sadness is once again banished to the 'Stay in this circle' and read a book. Kids in the theater will now be cowering in their seats, nodding at each other as if to say, 'Mommy does that to me too!'
And grown ups in the theater will be marveling at how cool is the idea of a train of thought, the maze inside the head, the Imagination zone, the cloud people, the subconscious... Why do you think any kid would be happy watching friendship island crashing, fun island turning gray and crumbling. And they don't tell you it can be rebuilt.
My heart was broken to bits when the Imaginary Friend Bing Bong is treated in the movie exactly how grown ups treat imaginary friends in real life. Not something kids need to see. No matter how many rainbows the wheelbarrow leaves...
If this were truly a movie for 11 year olds (the kid in the movie, Riley, is), then we would have seen more of Riley at adjusting in her new school, new crushes, her imaginary boyfriend, her struggle with lessons, her new found hockey team mates. Now that would have been really fun.
I can imagine mommies and daddies wagging their fingers at the kids telling them, 'See! If you behave badly, family island inside your head will crumble. If you fight with your best friend, friendship island will crumble!' I wanted Riley to stop walking to the bus stop (takes her all day!) and actually go do things truant kids do when they skip school: find other truant kids, pilfer things from store after trying out clothes, have a brush with the cops... The chances were plenty.
But no, this is the story of Joy. who needs to understand Sadness is important too. Blah. Like I said, the animation is superb, but it's a movie for grown ups. Get someone to watch over your kids while you ooh and aah over the Brazilian pilot...
P.S. Loved, loved, loved Sadness who lifts up her leg in submission and says, 'I'm too sad to walk.' (mommies will know, kids say, 'carry me' any time!)