I’m having a lot of trouble writing this review, and it’s not because my computer crashed and deleted the almost finished product at one point. No, I’d already been through a few drafts before that and nothing was working. Usually, I get in a tough spot writing a review if it’s neither good nor bad and all I can say is that my eyes saw it on a screen, but that’s not the problem with Inside Out.
Inside Out is about love and loss. It’s about happiness and sadness. It’s about growing up and finding your way. It’s about change and anger. It’s about fear and disgust. It’s about Life, and Life is damn hard to write about.
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Release Date: June 19, 2015
The plot of inside out is easy, and it’s been tackled before. The movie is the story of the emotions that reside inside a girl named Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) head. There’s Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Everything is going pretty swimmingly for Riley and her emotions until one day the family has to move to trigger a flood of sadness in what was a perpetually happy girl. Joy, panicking after a particularly sad moment becomes a key memory, gets herself and sadness sucked out of headquarters and into the nether regions of Riley’s brain. The two must find their way back with the help of Riley’s old imaginary friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind), as Anger, Fear, and Disgust attempt to hold the fort down with disastrous consequences.
If there is a limit to Pixar’s wonderful imagination they haven’t found it yet. Just when you thought the studio was going to sit back and rest on its laurels an entirely original and creative movie like Inside Out gets made. They deliver a film that has the emotional impact of the beginning of Up and yet somehow still make it fun and enjoyable. They’ve taken universal emotions and turned them into a children’s film that somehow delivers a commentary on sadness that’s more powerful than most overwrought dramas. The film is a lesson in how to address serious subjects while still having fun.
The screenplay is brilliant and honed to a fine point. Inside Out‘s story could be an overly complex and melodramatic mess, but it’s crafted to a fine point. Reigning in the chaos of two separate worlds, a plethora of characters, and a bunch of complex ideas the film masterfully weaves its story. The juxtaposition of the comical Anger, Fear, and Disgust at the helm of a young girl’s brain with the real-world reactions to that is powerful. It delivers a film that tackles depression and loss in ways that never get melodramatic or cheesy. Somehow in a children’s film we find some true heart.
That heart is going to make you cry. I don’t care how much of a tough guy you are Pixar is going to worm its way into your heart and then play those strings like a classical guitar. Part of this is because they’re just so damn good at it, but another aspect is the fact that Inside Out‘s themes are so universal. We’ve all been right where Riley is at some point in our life and Pixar has put that on the big screen in a way that is not only relatable but enjoyable. Often films involving sadness only involve that, but the entire point of Inside Out is that our emotions are all mixed together. Sadness and happiness aren’t competing forces, they lead to each other. For a film directed at children, this is some of the most adult dealings with emotion I’ve seen.
The movie may also be Pixar’s most stunning visually. It’s definitely a departure from their usual style, though not entirely removed. It simply looks brilliant and is constantly getting more and more creative with its visuals throughout. Joy is especially well designed as her body constantly shines with happiness. Meanwhile, Sadness somehow seems to drip with the emotion. At one point the characters are reduced to abstract thoughts in a brilliant and clever animation sequence that just highlights what Pixar can do.
My only concern with the film is that it oversimplifies things. Depression and emotional issues are immensely complex medical issues. Inside Out by its very nature doesn’t delve into that as much as it could and it may leave some who have been through these things shaking their heads. That being said it’s still an incredibly accessible doorway to talk about emotions and change. Humanity as a whole is often remiss in discussing what we’re feeling and Inside Out gives us a chance to say, “Yea, I’ve felt like that before.” It does this not by being overbearing in its message, but by inviting you in to enjoy it.
So there are some words on Inside Out. They’re OK. I still don’t think I got it right. I guess the only words I really need to write are: see this movie.