Inside Out (2015)

One of the very, very best in the Pixar canon, and that’s saying something.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Review #1,207

Dir. Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
2015 | USA | Animation / Adventure / Comedy | 95 mins | 1.85:1 | English
PG (passed clean) for mild thematic elements and some action

Cast: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
Plot: 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.
Awards: Won Best Animated Feature & Nom. for Best Original Screenplay (Oscars)

Distributor: Disney

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Light – Emotions
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 28 Aug 2015
Spoilers: No

One thing’s for sure, Pixar under Disney’s clout is still the Pixar of old, retaining the style and substance of some of its most celebrated works, while also exploring possibilities of the new by working with ideas borne through enthusiasm and the desire to create. 

Inside Out, the latest from the studio, is a prime example of this, and in my opinion, one of the very, very best in the Pixar canon.  Directed by Pete Docter, who made Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Up (2009), Inside Out expands the high-concept idea of ‘little voices in the head’ into a feature length narrative about the emotional rollercoaster ride that is growing up.

Riley is an 11-year old girl with loving parents, until they move from Minnesota to San Francisco.  Caught up in a new, alien environment, Riley struggles emotionally to cope with school and friends, a barren new house, and busy parents. 

The film’s focus is not on Riley’s everyday life, but the 24/7 affairs of five emotions in her mind, personified and colour-coded as Joy (yellow), Sadness (blue), Anger (red), Disgust (green), and Fear (purple). 

“Take her to the moon for me, Joy.”

Docter and his team brilliantly envision a sparkling new world order with eccentric characters and quaint infrastructure.  The mind is a colourful place, but it also has dark, unfathomable recesses. 

The entire film is entertaining and hilarious from beginning to end, yet it might just prove more satisfying for adults rather than kids.  The latter would enjoy the visuals and physical humour, but adults would appreciate the maturity of its storytelling.

For many years, I have been struggling to understand the way I think and feel.  Inside Out thus strikes me as revealing, giving me the opportunity to be acquainted with my inner self. 

It might sound pretentious, but in all honesty, the mechanisms that make the film work – its sharp ideas and observations of human emotions and thoughts – are the very same things that draw me closer to my own human experience. 

And for that, I find Inside Out especially valuable.  It is bold, and doesn’t aim to please audiences superficially; rather it invites them to be part of the film by the nature of its relatability – after all, we feel the same emotions, only in varying degrees.

Grade: A




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