“Inside Out” bright, funny and emotional gem
To say “Pixar is back” is a complete understatement. The studio we know never left us and kept working on projects. Many people praise “Inside Out” as the animation studio’s comeback hit is due to the previous films we had like “Cars 2,” “Brave” and “Monsters University.” And even then as a new film from them comes out, we praise it like they raised the bar so high that it can’t be topped. Yet another movie from them comes along to provide the same reaction. I stopped my hype at “Up” knowing that I would never experience an animated movie with so much dramatic weight. Their latest entry comes close but I would have to say seeing its so recent, its probably second best.
The story centers on the mind of an eleven-year old girl named Riley as we peak inside her brain and see how it runs. Basically her emotions drive about like the Enterprise as each different feeling takes control how Riley feels. As she interacts with the world around her, her sentient emotions have a hard time knowing when its the right time to use the controls. With Joy (Amy Poehler) at the helm, she makes sure that everything in Riley’s head is in control despite the other emotions striving for a turn.
Now, this is not a completely original idea but this movie is pure proof you can take the old and bring new life. Directors Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen are able to bring a fresh new view of what goes on inside your mind and I appreciated every minute of its creativity. I liked how the memories are used as a fuel source for the world that is created, when the other emotions take a hand in making their choices in Riley’s lifestyle and other bits that feel like a psychology class for kids. This is a good thing and a bad thing as terms like “subconscious” and “long-term memory” get tossed around to the point if we wonder how kids will understand it. The setting alone is visually bright and vibrant to explain it that it doesn’t worry me too much.
However, one emotion gets in the way as Sadness (The Office‘s Phyllis Smith) makes a major flub that has herself and Joy outside the command center of Riley’s brain and into the deep part of her mind. It is here things really pick up as we see clever elements that explain how a person’s brain works but not to the point of sugar coating it. We witness brain nerves sucking up old memories that don’t mean anything like piano lessons or phone numbers, a studio that creates dreams at night and even a place where Riley’s own imagination exists but keeps being reformed. As we dig into Riley’s brain (literally), we start to understand what kind of person she is and start to connect with her. Elements like fear of clowns or playing hockey play up as important parts of her mind that show her character than rather explain it verbally. Rarely has a setting describe the main character than just have us study one.
Unfortunately, things are not going well back at HQ as the other emotions (Fear, Anger and Disgust) try to take control of Riley but find that without Joy or Sadness, the little girl they were looking after since she was a toddler is out of control. It is often said that rules set up in a movie were meant to be broken and when I saw Riley’s mind fall apart, I relished in joy over the twist and turns “Inside Out” provides us. Some that are so heartbreaking that I can’t even fathom to explain like the lost imaginary friend Bing Bong which is one of many elements that make this movie a must see.
The animation design has a 1960s feel when we enter in Riley’s brain as it contrasts with the realistic colors and designs of the world outside. I found those choices interesting as much as the abstract look of the emotions as akin to the Muppets with big wide ping-pong eyeballs and fluffy nerves that make it less human but still able to connect. Speaking of Muppets, its odd to mention that two previous Muppeteers make a cameo that add to the odd yet out of control nature of “Inside Out.” When something goes wrong in Riley’s head, we fear the worst as parts of her mind crumble into an abyss of forgotten memories as her personality changes.
To say “Inside Out” is the best Pixar movie is jumping the gun too much. I already said “Up” will be for personal reasons but I would have to say this movie is my second favorite. With few flaws to distract, we enjoy the colorful yet strange world of a child’s mind that later gets duplicated in a great joke midway with Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan as Riley’s parents. As a argument at dinner seems dramatic on the outside, the comedy is played up when we look into the parent’s minds and see how they calculate their next “move.”
The moral at the end is a big one that often doesn’t get discussed. That every negative element has a reason to exist. Like how Lewis Black’s Anger tempted to say a swear word, we know there is a reason for bad things even when they are unexpected. “Inside Out” is cleverly written, fun and above all tear-jerking. It brought about a rare moment when I began to appreciate the existence of my sadness than anything else. Perhaps that is just what the magic of Pixar really is to remind adult viewers its ok to cry in a family movie.
Posted on June 28, 2015, in In Theaters (Sort of), Uncategorized and tagged Amy Poehler, Anger, Animated, Bing Bong, Computer, Diane Lane, Inside Out, Joy, Kyle MacLachlan, Pete Docter, Phyllis Smith, Pixar, Sadness. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.