Earnestness doesn’t fully excuse the low-key schmaltz peddled by Life Inside Out, the type of indie that your mother might politely describe as “touching” if she could manage to stay awake for its entirety.
Produced partly thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, and co-written by star Maggie Baird, director Jill D’Agnenica’s modest film details the efforts of Laura (Baird) to manage a busy household in which her husband and two older sons spend most of their time berating and/or neglecting youngest kid Shane (Finneas O’Connell), whose plight is the result of his perpetually morose attitude.
O’Connell embodies Shane with bland troubled-teen dourness, though his character’s mood slowly changes once Laura — who doesn’t get much satisfaction from hanging out with a grating sister (Lori Nasso) who likes to host scrapbook-making parties — starts playing original acoustic guitar–driven solo songs at open-mic nights.
Those Once-ish performances are as heartfelt as the script is contrived, and the cast’s turns are one-note. And as Shane and Laura begin not only bonding over her tunes but collaborating, Life Inside Out delivers inspirational domestic-drama mush that, however sincere, renders the film an often groan-worthy portrait of an adult and adolescent finding themselves through music.