Inside Out – 2015
Director Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Starring Voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
Screenplay Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
This is the most original movie since Up. Not only does one get a fresh perspective on the role of emotions on someone’s life, but we get to see life in a more deep and meaningful way without being an insult to the intelligence. It’s in the telling as well as the subject that we are so enraptured from the moment we first see Joy (Poehler) burst upon the scene of baby Riley’s personality the moment she is born. We also get to see Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust (Smith, Hader, Black and Kaling), marvelling at how they work together to form Riley’s outlook as her experiences turn into long-term and sometimes core memories.
The journey the five emotions are taking us on takes a big hit when Riley and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco. The collision of events lead to Sadness touching the core memories. Joy, always competing with Sadness in the kindest way possible, tries to keep her counterpart corralled. Unfortunately, this leads to Joy, Sadness and the core memories being lost in the vast library of long-term memories.
As they try to make their way back, things start to falter within the control center. Anger, Fear and Disgust try to right the ship, but the imbalance can only make things worse. Riley’s reactions to her stimuli provide a perfect counterpart for what is going on inside of her. Things get worse and parts of her emotional core begin to break down, making the journey of Joy and Sadness increasingly difficult.
Just as things start looking bleakest Bing Bong (Kind) shows up to help the two find their way. Bing Bong is Riley’s childhood imaginary friend and he’s been lost in long term memory for a while now. His efforts give a spark for Joy when she needs it most, but she still has a long way to go in the end.
The journey through both sides of Riley is an incredible thing to behold. It’s not only an emotional thrill ride, it’s also incredibly smartly handled. Even if it is all a fantasy and so much fun, it is a great film for kids as it starts a discussion that is essential at some point.
This is filmmaking at another level than hunting dragons, fighting pandas and zoo animals on the run. This is college level thinking in what is normally a Jr. High world. Docter and his team have become the cream of the animated crop leaving all others in their dream-like wake. It’s more than animation, which is exceptional. This Pixar team knows that an integral part to storytelling is a great story, relatable characters and situations and yes, humor too.
If you have kids, this film is a must. If you were ever curious about how you might be constructed, watch this movie. If you just want to be entertained, just watch this movie. If you like classic films, just see this movie.
(***** out of *****)