Call it a comeback! They’ve been missing for years! Announcing sequels for years and feeding into my fears! Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let’s talk about Inside Out. As you just read in that clever LL Cool J parody, Pixar is finally back in action; this time with a beautifully endearing original film.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this review, I must admit I walked into this film slightly skeptic. I’m a huge Pixar fan, but I felt like their post Toy Story 3 efforts haven’t been quite up to par. My mind wasn’t put to ease with the traditional Pixar Pre Feature Short attached to this film; Lava. The best way I can describe this short is Jabba the Hutt, disguised as a volcano, continuously sings an emo ukulele song, using the word “lava” as a pun for love. I found the piece slightly creepy, dull, and punbelievable! Luckily the proceeding film made up for Jabba.
Inside Out is about a young girl named Riley and her family moving to San Francisco , and the physical embodiments of her emotions insider her mind, that work as a team to build Riley as a person and create memories. As you can image with this studio and that concept, this story carries a lot of emotional heft. Luckily Pete Doctor, director of Monsters Inc. and Up, was on board to co-direct. The beautiful sincerity of life that Doctor brought to Up, particularly in the heart wrenching prologue, is on full display throughout the entirety of Inside Out. This feels like a true Pixar film.
The voice cast is FACTUALLY perfect. Seriously, I will challenge you to physical combat if you disagree (you’ll win). The voice cast for the five lead emotions are: Amy Poehler as Joy, Phillis Smith as Sadness, Bill Hader as Fear, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and Lewis Black as of course, Anger. Each character gets their own shining moments, and the comradery between them is just too much fun to watch. Watching and hearing Joy throughout the film made me feel like I was seeing Leslie Knope one more time, but in the form of a fairy-esque creature, and I can’t tell you how much JOY that brought me.
As unsurprising as this is, I have to point out that this film is stunningly gorgeous. The luscious colors pop out of the screen at you, inside Riley’s mind. The physical representations of Riley’s personality worlds are truly inspired. In Riley’s reality, the city of San Francisco is brought to life in masterful detail. The contrast between the real and intellectual worlds gives an extra layer, and helps with the relativity of what’s transpiring in Riley’s head.
The reason I feel this film is more in line with the gold standard of Pixar is the catharsis received from viewing it. Emotional resonance will fill every single person that experiences this journey; and if you don’t, there is proof that robots do roam this earth. There’s something to connect to for everyone be it losing a friend, starting a new school, being a parent, troubles at home, failures, etc. Early in my viewing, I feared that the film would end up being all about puberty but I’m happy to say the writers avoided this trope, and instead just told a truly original tale. I will have you know that I did not cry watching this film, but I feel dirty for not having done so.
With so much imagination, great performances, stunning visuals, and copious amounts of heart, I recommend Inside Out for everyone. Take a dive inside!
*Riley and her family are all born and raised in Minnesota, and their accents do not at all support this claim.
*I defy you to tell me that Riley’s Dad doesn’t look just like Kenny from Tell Tale’s The Walking Dead game series.
*I want to see Joy and Emmet from The Lego Movie do a team up.
What did you think of Inside Out? What did you think of Lava? Let us know in the comments section!