Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger puts his whole self in and takes his whole self out, but refuses to shake it all about.
The doctor will see you now.
Inside Out is a flabby but intriguing thriller that has seen DVD release because of a popular television doctor. And no, it isn't Dr. Peter Benton of ER fame, but Dr. Addison Montgomery of Gray's Anatomy. Kate Walsh is the first credit and photo on the DVD cover, though her role is relatively minor in the movie. But she is getting her own spin-off series, Private Practice. Coincidence? Such marketing antics are usually not a good sign. Is Inside Out worth the foil it's etched on, or is this simply a good time to trot out a B-film featuring hot TV doctors of the past and present?
Facts of the Case
The neighborhood is neat and tidy, with shiny cars leaving for work at the same time every day, spotless lawns, tasteful decor, and stay-at-home moms who look like Kate Walsh (Tyne) and Nia Peeples (Maria). Until one night when Doctor Peoples (Eriq La Salle) moves in at 3 A.M. and starts mowing his lawn…
Maria's husband Norman (Steven Weber, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical) and son Obert (Tyler Posey, Maid in Manhattan) both become obsessed with Doctor Peoples. Obert likes him because Doc pays him attention and teaches him to throw a baseball. Norman detests him because Doc pays his wife special attention and because Norman hears the sounds of women being beaten and sexually degraded coming from Doctor's basement.
When Norman hears Maria saying some very dirty things in Doctor's basement one day, it sends his already edgy self into mushroom-cloud-laying mofo mode. Several police and hospital visits later, Norman learns the truth about Doctor Peoples.
Blurbs like to advertise thrillers as taut. Inside Out is not particularly taut, but is nevertheless a thriller with a competently executed twist.
Inside Out uses cinematic shorthand to establish the orderly nature of the neighborhood (synchronized driving, anyone?). With that obvious establishment out of the way, it introduces an enigma. Doctor Peoples never does anything inappropriate, but he manages to infuriate the men and intrigue the women of the neighborhood in record time. He is polite (though sometimes inconsiderate) and we're unsure whether he is socially awkward or playing mind games. To its credit, Inside Out maintains the tension of this enigma for several minutes, piling on apparent inconsistencies that escalate the mystery.
At some point it dawns that the people aren't very interesting and that there's no one to root for. La Salle never tips his hand, underplaying Doctor Peoples while not giving us a reason to applaud his restraint. Steven Weber is a caricature of obsession, though we're unsure what he's trying to protect or hold onto. Nia Peeples, who should have been billed behind La Salle and above Walsh, is inexplicably bland. Hot, yes, but bland, and for no reason. When Norman shaves off all of his hair and Maria reveals her sexy little secret (no, the two are not related), the revelations are laughably unrelated to anything that came before.
As these realizations dawn, Inside Out loses its way. A side plot about Russell Wong as a gambling addict goes nowhere. Maria and Norman are accused of child abuse for the most tenuous of reasons and without a clear motive. The plot exists only to get the police involved, but there isn't a dramatic reason for their involvement. Some falderal about spying equipment seems to deepen the mystery, but the audio antics become so muddled that I'm not sure what I heard or what conclusions I was supposed to draw even after repeated listening. Subtitles would have been a big help in this regard. In short, Inside Out has an unfocused middle act that is marred by aural confusion.
Again to its credit, Inside Out regroups and regains momentum before moving into the reveal. The ending is internally consistent, clever, and capable of closing all of the mysteries and red herrings. Inside Out leaves you with the feeling that you have not been duped and have been taken through a cleverly executed riddle. The twist hardly justifies the transformation that occurs in the coda, but at least it gives us some warm fuzzies and rights the ship. If writer/director David Ogden had tightened up most of Inside Out's extraneous plots and editor Danny Saphire had shaved off ten minutes, the net impact would have increased considerably.
Along with subtitles and pacing, this release neglects extras (save for a stripped-down trailer). The video-sourced transfer is flat and very dark in places, but suffused with a rich color scheme that adds visual interest throughout. Doctor Peoples accents his life with rich canary yellows, from his bowtie to his ride, while Norman prefers a morose palette of neutrals and icy blues. Some artifacts plague the presentation, but overall it is a serviceable delivery.
In the wake of The Sixth Sense and M. Night's cinematic prankery, most thrillers promise a twist. Many of these twists feel like bolt-ons, but Inside Out takes pains to present a cohesive mystery. The characters could have been more interesting and the red herrings could use thinning out. If you find yourself in the presence of Inside Out it is worth seeing once, but I wouldn't go out of your way to pick it up. Inside Out is destined for cable TV, so keep your eye out.
Technically, Inside Out is innocent.
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Studio: Starz Home Entertainment
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