Inside Out (2015)
Dirs: Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
This film yet again proves that Pixar are (and always have been) at their best when the ideas for their films feel like nobody else could’ve handled it in any other way than them and their beautiful animation paired with very skilful storytelling.
Primarily set inside the mind of a growing girl called Riley, we see how growing up and change in her life sends her emotions on a journey they didn’t expect.
Let’s start with the great voice cast. The main characters are the emotions led by Joy voiced by Amy Poehler (‘Parks and Recreation’), Sadness perfectly voiced by Phyllis Smith (‘The Office’), Bill Hader (‘Hot Rod’ and so much else) as Fear, Mindy Kaling (also from ‘The Office’) is Disgust, and Lewis Black is Anger. These are voices that to me at least are familiar enough to add a certain level of reassurance, plus I think the voice cast have been well-paired with the emotion they’re portraying, clearly guided by the characters they have played in some of their most recognisable work. For example Poehler is possibly best known for her character Lesley Snope in ‘Parks and Recreation’ who was always incredibly determined, in control and found joy in things that others hated. There’s a smaller but pivotal role for Richard Kind whose voice is instantly recognisable but whose character at first sight I thought was about to spoil the film, and then completely turned it around from initially irritating me to causing me to shed a tear.
The entire story and its development is so well thought out, more than just the brilliant concept it is brilliantly combined with a touching story, neatly packed with real science and forming a brilliant metaphor with which to understand and explain emotional changes. The man who inspired the show ‘Lie to Me’ Paul Ekman was one of the many consultants on the film, ensuring the fundamental accuracy of how emotions work, and has released an interesting guide for parents. Despite this scientific basis the film never gets leaden with explanations or technicality, it remains entertaining as the story is given primary importance. Riley and her parents put a family dynamic at the heart of film, and the idea of a move and growing up prompting changes has been used before in ‘Toy Story’ and other Pixar films to good effect, it’s widely relatable and effectively touching.
Visually it’s a wonder, with Pixar using a new and entirely different method of animating the emotions to add extra glow to them, made up of moving particles and not the usual skin-like textures. It’s so bright and captivating, a visual treat that will keep the younger viewers interested even if they’re missing some of the complexities in the story. The film has two main realms, inside and outside Riley’s mind. While most happens within, the reality of her physical world, her homes and the new city of San Francisco is all beautifully created, with a different palette and feel to the inter-cranial scenes.
I can see potential for a sequel. The film clearly indicates where it would go and I can imagine if handled in the same way it could really work. Still, it would be perfectly fine to leave this as a really excellent stand-alone movie that doesn’t need to be followed up. Time will tell if Disney decide to go down that route but for now I think I’ll just watch this a few more times as there’s so much to enjoy and I know there’s more I can get out of it by seeing it again, which is why this review is unusually short, I know there’s much I’m missing, plus I haven’t yet found the ‘A113’!
‘Inside Out’ won the ‘Best Animated Feature’ at the Golden Globes, a win likely to be repeated at the BAFTAs where it is nominated in that category again, and the Academy Awards where it’s up for ‘Animated Feature’ as well as ‘Original Screenplay’. It’s now available to buy on all the usual formats from the regular places and is a lovely family film that will keep on giving.