The Disney-Pixar production company renowned for family friendly CGI cinema maintains its quality in Inside Out, an original piece that visualises psychology for young’uns and reminds us elder folk of the emotional jumble known as growing up.
I preface this review with this; the last Pixar film I saw was Toy Story 3, my last Disney film was also this. Safe to say I’m no expert on their works, I wasn’t even aware that apparently having a mini-feature before the main event was standard for them now but I enjoyed it a lot (enough so not to spoil it here).
We follow two simultaneous stories in Inside Out. The first is that of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias); we watch goofy, hockey-loving Riley grow in a loving environment from 0-11 years of age in Minnesota and San Francisco which begins as a hypercut montage of evocative “core memories” styled similarly to the first scenes of Up and then slows to a digestible, dramatic pace. The second, is also Riley, but broken down to her rawest emotions – in humanoid form, living in her mind which comically interact and help/hinder her through life.
Cleverly introducing Joy (Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) as the only emotions when Riley is a baby (laughing/crying being all babies really do) worked well and as time goes by Disgust, Fear and Anger subsequently arrive as Riley becomes more aware of her surroundings. Again, without wanting to spoil anything (I saw this a month before UK release) it’s safe to say all conversations are brilliant – one of the most striking and hilarious scenes actually being in the trailer when the family is round the table and everyone’s emotion-people debate and control like they’re piloting a Jaeger and contemplating “putting the foot down”.
Brightly coloured characters and environments and with expert levels of detail and imagination, the visionaries behind Inside Out execute a quite run-of-the-mill video-game like platformer-style plot but embellish it with understandable, watchable knowledge of the human psyche. The control centre runs the show, a “train of thought” flies around, there’s an abstract thought land, a long-term memory bank and a pit to represent forgotten thoughts… even the ground looks like brain tissue. Poehler’s voice carries tonnes of energy and contrasts well with Sadness’ monotone as they gallivant about trying to return happy core memories (orbs that work like film to project a current thought into Riley’s head) whilst trying to survive the darker side of human conscious and subconscious.
Meanwhile, a more relatable story of family difficulty plays out that moves the story along at a seemingly real-time pace. There’s a good sentimental message that underlies the film but it’s not schmaltzy and the dramatic climax hits all the right notes; adults will aww, kids will whoa.
Fortunately for cinema, Inside Out now has the biggest debut of any original, written for film, work in cinematic history ($91.1M vs Avatar’s $77M) and is currently the second biggest Pixar opening of all time behind TS3. This delights me as, previously mentioned in many of my reviews, celebrating originality will eventually cause the demise of crap ad-fests like Jurassic World and beget inspiring, truly enjoyable UNIQUE works like this or like the first Jurassic Park film.
I’ve tried not to write too much detail on the film’s specifics because I care deeply about your viewing experience and only want this review to prompt and remind anyone to go see this.
It’s a real Joy.