Inside Out, 2015.
Directed by Pete Docter.
Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan
After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
Inside Out boasts the imaginative concept of emotions being controlled from a desk by office workers in your head (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger), which would have been enough to base a movie around for any other animation studio, but this is a Pixar production, meaning things only expand further into complexity, wowing both children and adults on different levels.
The single greatest accomplishment in Inside Out is how fleshed out and thought-provokingly conceived the world inside our minds is depicted. With a story by Pete Docter (director of Up) and Ronnie del Carmen, Inside Out offers carefully crafted takes on where our memories go and how they are stored, amusement park reminiscent islands representing different personality traits, abstract memories, dreams, repressed horrifying thoughts, and an absolutely genius spin on imaginary friends.
Bing Bong (a character who to my knowledge isn’t even shown in the trailers) steals the show as a crossbreed of dolphin, elephant, and cat. He also has cotton candy for fur and cries out candy. Why is he sad? Well since our protagonist Riley is aging into her teenage years she has forgotten about such childish things, rendering Bing Bong sad and wandering about a labyrinthine library of memories, attempting to savor the faded ones they made together.
There is a larger story at scale however, and Bing Bong is more of a cog in the wheel of Pixar’s bold, successful attempt to justify the existence and positive uses that sadness can have on your mood. Obviously since this is primarily an animated movie for children that plot theme is heavily telegraphed and predictable, but it is executed with grade-A superb writing celebrating the co-existence of both joy and sadness.
It also helps that the voice talents for each of the respective emotions are spot on, bringing a healthy dosage of all five of those emotions to the audience. Amy Poehler injects Joy with energy and excitement, Phyllis Smith gives Sadness a mopey depressing tonal delivery. Bill Hader provides some goofball shenanigans for Fear, and Lewis Black shines as Anger with fire bursting from his head whenever something sets him off. Mindy Kaling’s take on Disgust is good, but feels underutilized and less as charming than the others outside of a broccoli scene. What’s most important however is that the camaraderie between characters make the world inside Riley’s burst alive with fascination and discovery.
Obviously, Pixar has also created a stunning film to look at from a pure animation standpoint; with every new release they seem to outdo themselves in detail. Fortunately, Inside Out is beautiful aesthetically too, with a wide variety of colors and interesting design choices for everything from memories to the surprising amount of depth found in each of the personality islands.
The goal with Inside Out clearly was to accomplish explaining why we feel the way we do, and it does that cleverly with the backdrop of Riley moving away to a completely different state and having to juggle the strong emotions burdened with such a drastic change in life. As funny as many children will find each of the voices inside Riley’s head, both children and adults will come away mesmerized and filled with a sense of wonder of how our brain operates. You also get to pretend that Lewis Black is inside your head pushing buttons, acting out your anger for you, which is honestly pretty awesome.
It also takes major guts to essentially kill off an important character in an animated film in this age, but Pixar did it. Those sons of bitches! Inside Out is Pixar’s best feature since Toy Story 3 and one of the year’s most stimulating films.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook