Inside Out Review

The animation kings of cinema, Pixar, have been making films that transcend the usual expectations that come with animated films. Cartoons can often be written off as simply for kids and therefore don’t always get the respect they deserve. This all changed with Toy Story 20 years ago. Animated films don’t have to be just for kids. They can have more depth, more emotional investment if you let them in. Inside Out, Pixar’s newest film is aimed literally towards the emotions, not just of kids, but of everyone, and it strikes a pretty great chord showing that if you look a little deeper there is heart and a story worth anyones time.

Pixar often takes a unique view on storytelling, finding emotional resonance in unassuming characters. It is of no surprise that they would do this again, this time making the emotions themselves the stars. The main character could actually be considered in two parts: Riley, and the emotions that guide her. The main emotion taking charge is Joy, who is as she’s named. Joy sees the good in everything, and wants Riley to be happy all the time, always looking for the bright side in a situation that could be perceived as anything but. Joining her are Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. Together they help Riley and make her who she is. It’s when they are all uprooted from Minnesota to San Francisco, which is a lot for anyone absorb, and the emotions get the best of themselves.

Where the film really excels is in its visual manifestation of the emotions and the way our minds work. The emotions run everything from the Headquarters and outside surrounding them are the islands that are representative of core values and a deeper bank of countless memories that together make up who Riley is. When the emotions start to lose control, causing Riley to revisit some of her memories in a different light, Joy and Sadness find themselves thrust from headquarters, leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear to run Riley in their stead. Wandering through the outer reaches of Riley’s mind Joy and Sadness encounter memories long forgotten, an imaginary friend and we even find out why we sometimes can’t get those stupid jingles out of our head.

In the outer world, Riley is trying to adapt to her new life in San Francisco, but when most of the cores of her being are hundreds of miles away, there is little she can grasp onto for stability. The dinner scene where Riley and her parents are talking about her day was a great display of emotions at work, not only in Riley but her mother and father. Seeing everyone’s emotions represented in the same way, personalized to their host was fascinating to watch. It plays as a great reminder that emotions fuel everyone and that they don’t always guide us to the best actions.

Inside Out expertly dove deeper into the inner workings of the human mind showing that no one should be dictated by one emotion alone. Sure it would seem ideal to always be happy and carefree but it’s the other emotions that allow us to grow and protect us. Fear keeps us safe and helps us to consider the consequences of our actions. Anger teaches us to be vocal and stand up for what we believe in, and sadness allows for us to find a release, and be supported by those around us when we ourselves aren’t up to the task. It’s when these emotions all work in harmony that something far grander can take place, and a more complex appreciation can take hold.

The technical prowess that Pixar brings has yet to disappoint, supported by a well rounded cast that really brought the characters to life. Lewis Black in particular was perfect in his role as Anger. The one thing that lacking in the end is the formulaic story. While the the main point of the film was the emotions at play, there was a sense of predictability that brought the over overall story a little down. The beats and cadence of the film all worked fine but early on, there was a sense of where it was going and it kept pretty par for the course. With all the emotional depth surrounding it, it was very scenic and a ride worth taking, even if the end was visible the whole time.

Inside Out is a great film for kids and adults alike. There is plenty to keep the kids happy and laughing while also being emotionally investing to the parents. Though some of the story felt a little procedural the heart and depth of the film are really where it’s strengths lie. Though the main character is an 11 year-old girl, it’s impossible not to relate to how our emotions sometimes run wild and get the better of us. Its this greater understanding that allows this movie to make a wonderful impact in a new and inventive way. Pixar proves that characters can literally be anything and anywhere, including the emotions inside all of us.

Inside Out gets a 5 out of 5
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