To say Inside Out is a great film would be to grossly undersell its brilliance; it is, quite frankly, movie magic.
Pixar has become the storytelling-standard by which us movie lovers judge every animated feature. We’ve even come to judge each new Pixar release against every other past Pixar release. It is not uncommon to hear someone ask “Is it as good as <insert Pixar film>?” Or to hear “Compared with <insert Pixar film>, how does it stack up?” We all have our favorite(s) and thus judge the newbies accordingly. But to compare each of these films with one another is a bit pointless. Pointless because they are all masterful examples of storytelling, each in their own way. Inside Out is just another example of the creative ingenuity driving Pixar films, and how every new creation brings with it something new, and familiar, for us Pixarphiles to love.
Inside Out follows the story of Riley, or more specifically, Riley and the five emotions that guide her through her life: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), and Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling). When Joy and Sadness accidentally get themselves ejected out of the main headquarters from which they control Riley’s day-to-day activities, it’s up to the remaining three to take over until their missing comrades can find a way back through the nexus of Riley’s internal universe; a mishap which doesn’t go well for Riley.
The film is directed and co-written by Pete Docter, who you might remember as the gentleman that brought us Monsters, Inc., and Up. He was also one of the three key screenwriters behind the original Toy Story’s conception. His skills – both behind the camera and with the proverbial pen – are proving to be, at this point, as reliable as Pixar’s own track record. With Inside Out, he’s taken concepts and ideas about human biology – ideas about how the mind and body work – and just simply allowed his imagination to go nuts with them. He visually conceptualizes for us what our subconscious might look like if it were an actual place we could visit, what our cataloging system for memories could resemble were we to take a stroll through a tangible location designed as a labyrinth of columns and rows, and best of all, what our emotions could look like were they to be personified and given little minds of their own. It’s a world I found myself enjoyably lost within; one I will probably revisit again before the film’s theatrical run has been completed. But it’s not just the fun and clever world Docter and Pixar have created for us. It’s the story told within the folds of this world that grabs on to your emotions (forgive the pun) and never lets go. We’re treated to laughs (a whole heap of them) as well as tears (the most hardened and insensitive person won’t escape without a watery-eye or two). It’s everything you’d come to expect as you head into a dark theater to plop yourself down for the latest Pixar presentation. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, the sneaky bastages get to work on the aforementioned watery-eyed situation with a little pre-film short entitled Lava. Believe me when I say its story and jingle will remain in your head long after you’ve left your seat……I have a dream, I hope will come true. You’re here with me, and I’m here with you.
Additionally, and most importantly, Inside Out helps to chip away a bit more at the longstanding, Hollywood perception that films targeting a female demographic aren’t solid investments. If you’ve never listened to Kevin Smith’s interview with writer Paul Dini on his Fatman on Batman podcast, I urge you to take a gander (topic discussion begins around the 46:40 mark). It’s worth a listen to hear Dini discuss his frustrations with executives who ignorantly adhere to this notion.
Inside Out truly is, like I said, movie magic. It’s the reason why we go to the movies. It’s a film to be enjoyed by movie-goers of all ages and genders. Whether you’re a 39-year-old male geek, an 8-year-old gal, or a film snob who only frequents theaters showcasing the latest indie film with subtitles, I guarantee this here story will satiate your film-palate and leave you hungry for more.