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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

MOVIE SHOWDOWN: Inside Out vs. Minions

Two years ago, our own Hannah Lodge wrote an article detailing a competition between two closely released animated films: Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University.  Now, Illumination's Minions and Pixar's Inside Out are competing for the attention of families across America.  If Box Office is to be believed, Minions is the more popular choice.  But what if you want to see both films?  Which one do you choose?  Sounds like it's time for another MOVIE SHOWDOWN!  Which film has the better Characters, Plot, Voice Cast, Animation, and Humor?  Which should YOU choose?  Time to find out!

Round 1 - Characters

Minions has a pretty big advantage going into this round.  First appearing in 2010 in Despicable Me, everyone is pretty familiar with the Minions after three films.  Even if the particular Minions and other characters in this film are different, there is still a sense going in of what to expect from particular characters.  One could argue the same could go for Inside Out as the basic emotions which serve as our main characters are something we are all know well.  This round, then, has to be settled with not expectations, but which film simply has the more well-rounded, well-developed characters.  Kevin, Bob, and Stuart (particularly the first two) are developed quite well during the course of Minions, but everyone else is pretty one-dimensional.  While certain characters in Inside Out also face that problem, Riley, Joy, Sadness, and even Bing Bong are authentic, believable characters with arcs that succeed a lot more.

Winner: Inside Out

Round 2 - Plot

Pixar is known for its well thought out, typically original stories.  The ideas behind their films are usually what attract us to them before we even know anything about the characters, actors, or jokes.  Inside Out is classic Pixar in terms of idea and story for the fact that it's one of those movies with an idea so simple you wonder why no one else thought of it first.  The story of RIley and, by extension, Joy's realization that sadness is just as necessary an emotion as happiness is one which touches the hearts of viewers of all ages.  With Minions, expectations actually work against this film.  Though the journey of Kevin, Stuart, and Bob to find a new boss is a lot of fun to see unfold, there's nothing about this that feels as original.  Having the villain and acts of evil be the goal is unique, but this is now the third time we have seen such a plot from Illumination.  Not to mention more of Minions' story beats feel more predictable and overall expected than Inside Out.

Winner: Inside Out

Round 3 - Voice Cast

This is probably one of the closer categories of this entire battle.  Not an obvious clear winner when simply looking at the casts on paper.  Voice casting is obviously quite important for an animated film, and it is something both Inside Out and Minions accomplish very well.  With Minions, John Hamm is definitely the biggest stand out, providing an almost uncharacteristically goofy performance that stands toe-to-toe with the silly antics of the Minions.  While Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, and Allison Janney are also good, they feel a bit more like they are phoning it in than Hamm, who completely becomes a different character (read: actually acts).  The same can be said for Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling in Inside Out, as they are essentially only playing over-the-top extensions of themselves.  While Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith could also be lumped in that argument, their characters' receive so much more development that they get a bit more to do.  Kaityln Dias also does an excellent job playing the role of Riley and making it believable.  Since this round is so close, we're going to have to look at these casts as a whole.  So which one is the best ensemble?  That goes to...

Winner: Inside Out

Round 4 - Animation

Our only other super close category for this showdown.  It being 2015, a computer animated film really has no excuse to NOT have some pretty exceptional animation, especially one from such big studios as Pixar and Illumination.  Inside Out continues to impress with the way Pixar can animate something so deceptively easy as hair.  Each of Riley's emotions are bright and colorful, with these fascinating glowing bodies that are only semi-solid.  While Minions arguably has a duller color palate, the sheer variety of environments, settings, and clothing which are rendered in this film far exceeds that of Pixar's offering.  While Inside Out is exceptionally animated, Minions contains at least double the environments and characters which are just as exceptionally rendered, for that reason alone, those yellow creatures take away their first win.

Winner: Minions

Round 5 - Humor

This round is a bit more subjective.  While it's easy to find humor for both adults and children in both films, which one appeals to the target demographic more?  Inside Out has plenty of colorful imagery and sight gags that may delight younger viewers, but its humor is most definitely pointed at an older crowd.  Riley's imaginary boyfriends, the tiles of Facts and Opinions, the complex idea of a sub-conscious.  All of these and more are played up for laughs and, while adults and teens may love them, there's not a lot there for the under 10 crowd.  That is where Minions comes in with its biggest advantage.  While Pixar is not above a fart joke (see Finding Nemo), the already instilled charm of the Minions' childish humor at farts, silly words, and general buffoonery make for an experience that is perhaps far more joyful for the youngest of audiences.  Seeming to take some heavy inspiration from Looney Tunes, Minions is filled with a lot more physical comedy than Inside Out, only helping to add to the word play and humorous, musical throwbacks sung in "Minionese."  

Winner: Minions

Overall Winner: Inside Out 

While Minions is definitely the funnier film of the two in this showdown, and definitely the option to seek if you have children under 10, Inside Out provides the more complete movie-going experience.  Pixar knocks it out of the ballpark in easily one of the greatest films they have ever made.  The story of Riley's emotions is a simple concept, but it brings in huge ideas that adults can appreciate just as much as kids.  Inside Out's cast works together like the well-oiled machine we know Pixar to typically be, and it's hard to see this one not walking away with an Oscar come 2016.  With an engrossing story, fascinating characters, and beautiful visuals, Inside Out is the animated film you want to be sure to catch while it's in the theater.  While Minions is a lot of fun, it is an experience that can be safely saved for DVD/Blu-Ray.

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