The list of movies which has churned out from Disney and Pixar‘s animated collaboration need no introduction! Who has not seen their 1st film Toy Story (1995) or its subsequent equally good (or arguably better) follow ups? Just like its previous releases, this film’s release has been hyped up beyond reason (mainly due to its tough competition with box office mammoth Jurassic World), probably that is the only reason I actually got interested in watching this film. Even the great Pixar seems to be underwhelming audiences after Cars 2 (2011), Brave (2012) and Monsters University (2013) failed to please. Luckily, it seems their low times are left far behind, as with their 15th animated film in their 20 years of history comes this enjoyable feel good film that deals with emotions.
While some reviews have gone as far as calling this their best yet, well I wouldn’t go that far, as in my opinion, it sure is great, but is still behind films like Toy Story 3 (2010), Up (2009), WALL-E (2008) and The Incredibles (2004). Nevertheless this film is possibly their most original and interesting concept yet. Not only does it have beautiful animation, but it also has a fascinating story. It focuses on the human brain and our emotions which is a very complicated subject, but the movie makes it so bright and easy to understand that even little kids could get it! Director Pete Doctor (Up, Monsters Inc) has taken the concept of people inside a body controlling things and added a fun, new brilliant creative spin on it that is just too wonderful for words. The story follows the life of Riley Anderson (voiced by Kaitln Dias) and the emotions inside her head. We see how inside baby Riley’s head, a glowing figure emerges in yellow dress and blue hair. The person presses a button to which the baby smiles, thus creating her first emotion – Joy. Years later, we see Riley Anderson growing up and doing what most girls do, play, laugh, hang out with friends, have some family time and Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) watches it all and loves it. There have also been more emotions that joined “headquarters” in that time, a timid blue girl in a turtleneck named Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) who deals with Riley’s problems the easy way, a red brick man named Anger (voiced by Lewis Black) who helps her to achieve things even if it be through forced, Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling) a cute girl clad in green who helps Riley to refuse foods such as broccoli or picking the wrong outfit for school and a thin purple man with large worried eyes named Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) who stops Riley from hurting herself or getting into danger.
Together the emotions work together, even if they don’t all get along to keep their girl happy and healthy. Until of course she reaches eleven and the trouble starts after the family move from Minnesota to San Francisco and new problems arise. The film’s animation is just-Spectacular. There’s really nothing else to call it. They show memories in the form of multi colored orbs each a color for a different emotion, e.g. Joy yellow, Anger red. There is a scene in which Joy and Sadness wander through Long Term Memory which is just an endless twisting row of shelves full of different colored memories. Someone got to animate that, draw, paint and render every single frame. Some of the most funniest moments of the film come when we get to see how her mind worked with limited emotion. The cleverness came from the simplest things such as how a certain advertisement can get stuck in your head for days or how you forget a certain memory, but again i feel i have to keep these aspects brief. Everyone will at least relate to one character or situation. Admit it, we all have a friend like Bill Hader‘s Fear.
It makes me wonder how our minds actually do work. Emotions just seemed to get way more interesting. Its like the questions Toy Story put in our heads, but as weird as it sounds they seem more real here. The most powerful scene in the movie is in Memory Dump. Joy and Bing Bong have fallen in. Joy sits in a pile of fading stones, picks up the memories she can still see and begins to weep. “Do you remember when she used to stick her tongue out when she was coloring? I could listen to her stories all day.” She realized what it is like to be sad and breaks down from the years of her being patronizing to Sadness who she sees no use for. Joy remembers Bing Bong’s rocket was thrown into the dump and they use it to escape. Unfortunately, Bing Bong is fading. Joy is an emotion- she cannot be forgotten. He however fades away after jumping off the rocket. “Take her to the moon for me…okay?” I was sobbing in my seat. I thought Dory’s Monologue was sad and the beginning of Up and Jessie’s abandonment but you made me cry over an elephant cat hybrid who’s imaginary! I’m shocked by the reviews stating the film too sad or too dark & something about not relating to little kids. Well, actually maybe it’s not for little kids, it’s aimed at older children, perhaps even those around Riley’s age in the film. It’s far too complex for a three year old. An eight year old would probably be able to understand it, but I would put this film at a 10+ to be honest. It’s just so smart. I enjoyed this, and let me just say, your own emotions will be running around headquarters going haywire after watching it.
The story/plot is the real standout of this movie. It is a brilliant realization of how our emotions work inside our brains. This is a very complex subject, one that scientists have been working on for many years. The film brings a new perspective to the screen with many new ideas. It blows my mind how the filmmakers were able to come up with such an intricate design of the human brain what with our emotions being characters or long term memory being like a huge maze in our brain. There are so many little clever things in the film that really makes you change your perspective on how the mind works.
The story itself is much like an adventure as it focuses on the mind of an eleven year old girl and the difficulties of that age. While she is going on an emotional adventure in the real world, the characters of the emotions are going on an adventure in her mind which makes for some interesting storytelling. Sure the film has its downside as well – 10 minutes into the film the plot starts to meander. Ironically, the biggest casualty of this is Riley herself, whose character and interaction with the real world is quickly lost within the narrative. Aside from her first day at school and a half-baked plot involving her escape from home, she is strangely underused as a character in her own right. It would have been fascinating to see her make new friends and to navigate the pressures of school and a new life in a new city. The characters are all brilliant, colorful and memorable. Maybe not Toy Story memorable, but people would still recognize them. Joy is well…joyful. Amy Poehler as Kaling puts it “is light incarnate” and she’s right! She adds such a warmth and upbeatness to the character while not ending up being annoying. Phyllis Smith as Sadness is one of the best casting choices I have seen in a long time. She is morbidly funny, she is adorable, cuddle some and very smart, (she was the only one who bothered to read the manuals) Lewis Black as Anger. Spot On! You could feel the energy in his voice, yet you still loved this gruff,grumpy character who could still be funny in his own way. Mindy Kaling as Disgust was great to0! Very sarcastic and shallow but not in a mean way, almost in a “It’s my job, deal with it,” kind of way. Bill Hader as Fear was golden! His nervous voice fit so perfectly with his character’s comical movements and delivery that you just felt so sorry for him while laughing as he screamed. Bing Bong, a half cat, elephant, cotton candy, dolphin, candy crying hybrid who was Riley’s friendly and loving imaginary friend when she was little. Although she doesn’t have use for him now that’s she’s eleven, he still stays in her Imagination land. When we first see him he is stealing memories and appears to be far more cute and willing to help than anyone else. At first glance, you would go “Oh, well much like Lotso, King Candy and Hans he’s a villain because of his deceiving appearance.” You would be very wrong. Bing Bong wants to help Joy and Sadness back to headquarters so they can help Riley as her islands of personality start to collapse. He is a pure, Winnie the Pooh meets John Candy type of hug-gable, funny character voiced by the brilliant, Richard Kind!
On the whole, Inside Out, is Pixar‘s back to true form! It is a very clever film with with great animation and music. The actors/actresses do a fine job voicing their parts and the directors really bring the world inside the movie to life. Above all else, the concept and design of the whole movie is amazing. The story is rich with adventure and some good humor. This a brilliantly crafted movie, a rather unique viewing experience of the type that you can only get from Pixar.
Overall Rating: 9.5
Directors – Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Starring (voices of) – Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black
Rated – 94 minutes
Run Time – PG