Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG for mild Thematic Elements and some Action
Directed by: Pete Docter
Written by: Pete Docter, Meg LaFauve & Josh Cooley
Voices of: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Davis, Diane Lane & Kyle MacLachlan
From 2007 to 2010, Pixar really spoiled us. We received RATATOUILLE (one of my personal favorites), WALL-E, UP, and TOY STORY 3 for four consecutive years. After 2010, it was revealed that Pixar were mere mortals with the likes of a sequel (CARS 2), a so-so prequel (MONSTERS UNIVERSITY) and a enjoyable-yet-not-up-to-their-normal-standards original film (BRAVE). Now, we are receiving two original Pixar films in space of a single year. We get THE GOOD DINOSAUR in November and we currently have INSIDE OUT in theaters nationwide. This film was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015 and it exceeded all of my expectations. This is easily a stellar return to form for the Pixar that we all knew and loved. INSIDE OUT is an appropriately emotional and boundlessly creative adventure that will keep kids engaged and older viewers in a state of awe. It’s a wonderfully imaginative modern animated classic and I love everything about this movie.
Riley is a young girl with five different emotions running around inside of her mind. There’s Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. These emotions all get along well enough and live in Headquarters, taking turns at the control panel of Riley’s mind for given situations. At the end of each day, memories are stored, with important core memories shaping various islands of Riley’s personality. When Riley moves to a new city with her parents, the five emotions are thrown into turmoil. This causes Joy and Sadness to accidentally be sucked out of Headquarters with Riley’s core memories. With three unqualified emotions (Disgust, Fear, and Anger) running Riley’s mind and her personality falling apart in the absence of her core memories, Joy and Sadness must make the seemingly impossible journey back to Headquarters in order to save Riley’s emotional state.
INSIDE OUT moves very quickly and has a lot of big concepts. This is a film that turns everyday life into an adventure. The landscape of Riley’s mind is massive and each piece of it (whether it be Imagination, Long-Term Memory, etc.) is executed with skill. I would guess that younger viewers can grasp most of these concepts pretty well in the way that the film presents them. The animation is beautiful, though that’s not a big surprise seeing that this is Pixar. Still, the way in which Riley’s mind is turned into this gigantic world is creative and awesome.
While INSIDE OUT technically tells two parallel plot threads (Riley in the real world and the emotions inside of her head), they both blend perfectly into a single narrative. Riley is a likable girl and her parents are loving guardians. It’s not like we see as much of them as the emotions, but they give us a good idea as to what kind of people they are through their scenes. The emotions themselves are great! Just because they are technically a single emotion doesn’t mean that they don’t have character arcs. It sounds like that would be impossible, but the clever screenplay pulls it off brilliantly. Joy is a lovable character and we root for her from the very beginning. Sadness provides a lot of comic relief early on, but develops into a more serious presence later in the story. Anger, Disgust and Fear provide a lot of laughs. I was cracking up during their scenes. One moment involving Fear watching a dream is comedic gold.
However, INSIDE OUT’s biggest strength comes in its emotional side. That may sound corny and obvious to say, but it’s true. I was surprised by how teary-eyed this movie was making me throughout. It’s not all Sadness though as the movie also has a lot of sentiment feelings about family and provokes nostalgic memories about growing up (e.g. jokes about catchy commercial jingles, imaginary friends, and forgetting pointless information learned in school). I know I wasn’t the only one having such a strong reaction to this film either. I could hear many older viewers in the audience who were on the brink of crying during a couple of scenes. It’s not nearly as sad as the first 10 minutes of UP, but it’s still really emotional in every way imaginable throughout.
INSIDE OUT is a beautiful film! The story is clever, hilarious and deeply heartfelt all at the same time. The creativity on display is bound to spark the imagination of many viewers young and old. This is a clear return to form for Pixar and easily my favorite family film of 2015 thus far. I love this movie! It’s an emotional ride that I plan on revisiting many times in the near future! If you’re a Pixar fan or just a fan of great family movies, INSIDE OUT is a must-see!