Year Released: 2004
Running Time: 4 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 12+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Inside Out, Cells at Work, Minions
-Cortex Academy is streaming on YouTube.
-Spoilers will be mentioned in this review. Part of this involves a controversy associated with this short film.
-Special thanks to dbmoviesblog for letting me know about this short film.
-The dialogue is based on an audio skit from French-Canadian comedian/musician Francois Perusse. He’s from Quebec City, QC, has his own radio show, and he even got to work with the Cirque du Soleil for their Beatles tribute show.
-One of the co-directors is Cedric Jeanne. He also got to animate a Disney movie with Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas. Speaking of Disney…
-Controversy Alert: Pixar? Are you serious? I thought you did original things, but much like your parent company, you decide to steal from a foreign animated film. Which movie has been accused of stealing from Cortex Academy? Inside Out! We’ll talk about it in the review proper.
I get to be immersed in short French animations again. It’s been a fascinating find discovering shorts of various kinds. Despite having a background in film during my university days and with my autodidact leanings since starting this blog back in 2017, I am still learning about different aspects of the cinematic art form. Things such as directors, countries I never thought I would see movies from (this even goes back to my first review with the Jordanian film Theeb!), controversies I never knew, and genres I never were exposed to all seeped into my mind. I wanted to know more outside of whatever the mainstream gave me, so I was able to pick a few things from blogs I’ve been checking out.
Of course, I would have to open my mind to something I never expected.
Cortex Academy takes place inside someone’s mind. Instead of looking like a typical brain, there’s a high-tech background and mainly revolves around a control center or sorts with monitors, control panels, and intercoms. Various aspects of the brain and psyche are shown in multi-colored anthropomorphic forms such as the Cervical Center as the leader, Vocal Cords, Emotion, Reason, Judgment, and so many more all have to work together inside a person’s head. This particular case involves someone who may or may not be cheating on this person.
Ooh, this was a quirky little short film of sorts. The world-building worked very well in such a short period of time. The Cervical Center is busy calling out everyone to assess and react to the situation in hilarious ways. He orders what to sound like to the Vocal Cords, contacts Reason to mediate between others, knows what to feel with Emotion, and asks Judgment on how to deal with this individual who might be a philander. That was funny with the fast-paced humor and zingers are thrown in. I do think Vocal Cords was very hilarious like how he would sing when he’s being called before switching to a normal voice. The sound design was creative like how the Cervical Center tells the heart to increase while EDM plays to represent the raising heartbeat which was very creative. I’m sure fans of Cells at Work would appreciate the anthropomorphic take on neural functions talking to each other and reacting. Even though things get crude at times, it never gets to Family Guy or South Park level of raunchiness which was fine.
Okay, so we have this CGI animated film that takes place in someone’s mind, anthropomorphic aspects of the brain and feelings, done from the perspective of these synapses reacting to a human’s condition, and they all happen to be color-coded. Wouldn’t it be crazy if a major studio were to make a kid-friendly version of that concept? Oh, wait. That would happen nine years after Cortex Academy.
Pete Docter, you just HAD to filch from France again with a movie you directed, didn’t you?
Pixar, that’s two strikes from me right now. I find out about Up ripping off Above Then Beyond, and now this? Why does the freaking Disney corporation steal so much and get away with it? I know Cortex Academy is more about brainwaves than different emotions, but the concept is still there. You could make a case of Emotion (the character) being the original Anger if you really think about it. Not only that, but Pixar was actually taken to court by child psychologist Denise Daniels who is the creator of an educational toy/multimedia series called The Moodsters because she believed that Inside Out ripped off her creation, too! Seriously, just do a Google search on The Moodsters and you’ll even see a related search pop up about this famous CGI movie. This is just insane. The court case was dismissed in 2018. This is so bogus since no one has any of that Disney cheddar to take on Mickey Mouse. Now, is Inside Out as shameless of a ripoff compared to Up as far as Pixar is concerned or about two certain Disney flicks that stole from the respective anime series Nadia: Secret of Blue Water or Kimba the White Lion? I’d say not as much, especially compared to that copycat film from 1994 (Is any movie this blatant of film plagiarism as this one?). Still, I know Pixar knows better.
Cortex Academy could use some surgery. Much like Above Then Beyond, this has aged CGI which hasn’t held up as well. It is blocky and doesn’t coalesce well with the environments. Besides the hoopla about the person cheating, I don’t know anything about the person besides how her mind operates. I wish we could learn more. Like some “real life” footage of the person talking to people (funny enough, Inside Out would’ve ripped this movie off even MORE if that was the case) to see how they operate. You can create a much larger short film than just something under four minutes. Also, one minute of that was the credits which were very disappointing. Yes, there’s still animation that happens, but there should’ve been more story and comedy going on here. I was also not a fan of the generic disco track as an ending theme.
This little French short did elicit a few laughs out of me. The concept was funny as well as creative. I do wish it was longer though. Yes, I did hear about Cortex Academy because of the Inside Out plagiarism controversy which I didn’t know was actually a thing. In any other case, I’d give this an average review, but because this got ripped off, I’ll be gracious to give it an extra point. It’s a painless four minutes, but it could’ve been better.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you like animated comedies.
Subtract 1-3 points if you really like Inside Out.
-Good sound design
-Aged CGI animation
-Lack of development with who the person is
-Way too short
Final Score: 6/10 points
Content Warning: Despite the frequent comparisons with Inside Out, I would recommend Cortex Academy for older children and up. There’s some swearing, innuendo, cheating as a plot point, and direct comments about sex (the word “shagging” is used).
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Cortex Academy is property of Frederic Mayer and Cedric Jeanne. The screenshot is from YouTube and property of Frederic Mayer and Cedric Jeanne.