Pixar Animation Studios is back with intelligent thought and creativity to explain the childhood mind in “Inside Out.”
“Inside Out” follows the story of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) or rather the story of the emotions within her head. In Headquarters, a clever pun, resides Joy (Amy Poehler) who leads a team of other emotions including Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). These emotions help keep tabs on the core memories of Riley that give life to various islands in her head that represent traits of her personalities.
In the week that Riley has moved from her hometown of Minnesota to San Francisco, Sadness starts touching the memories of Riley, making Riley sad in the process. Joy stops Sadness from continuing until Riley’s core memories fall from the main console. Joy tries to fix the situation, only for her and Sadness to be sucked into the long-term memory. This begins their journey to head back to headquarters and regain control of Riley to help her become the happy girl she has always been.
By the looks of the film alone in trailers, audiences might expect it to be simple with its bright colors, typical kids comedy and retro 60’s stylings, but that is where the simplicity of the film ends. The film is a complex experience that examines the inner workings of what early signs of depression and being homesick is. With Joy and Sadness out of the picture, the other three emotions try to work in order to get Riley operating again, yet this develops a moody and more lifeless version of Riley. This extends to the relationship of Joy and Sadness.
These two are the basic opposites we know and understand, but seeing two animated characters that represent those feelings interact with Joy’s overly positive personality and Sadness’ depressing side trying to figure out. It is not until the film reaches a breaking point with the constant messing about in Riley’s head does Joy understand that Riley needs to let out more than just happiness of the world. One part in particular that explains one major complexity is nothing short of stunning.
As Joy and Sadness find Riley’s old imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), they enter Abstract Thought in a gorgeous sequence of fun comedy and imaginative animation. Yet, on the outer workings of Riley’s reality, she is alone eating lunch by her lonesome self. One of the mind workers explains that this is the abstract thought of loneliness. Never in a film has this been carefully explain with such thoughts and wonder involved, yet Pete Doctor and his Pixar crew figured it out.
The humor of this film perfectly balances the more mature and complex moments of the feature. It’s designed in a way that kids won’t get bored and adults can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their kids are digesting the information in front of them. One joke in particular involved the constant times someone gets a song stuck in their head that is hilarious.
The characters are in themselves well played and acted. The two standouts in particular are Phyllis Smith as Sadness and Richard Kind as Bing Bong. Smith delivers her lines with such a beautiful melancholic tone that rivals Eeyore of “Winnie-the-Pooh” fame, but also performed with such honesty and pain that the audience latches on to her throughout the journey. Kind as Bing Bong brings on the warm feeling of the imaginary friend we all have while wondering if Riley still loves and thinks about him that makes a moment later in the film all the more heartbreaking.
With the aforementioned retro design and bright colors, the film appeases the viewer with delightful hues and balances with the reality of Riley that is muted and dreary due to her view on it. Colors are all over this film to explain simply what emotions do what while adding to an already gorgeous tapestry of animation. One technique used in this film which is astounding is the use of a Kirby Dots effect to give a shiny glow to the characters in Riley’s body. This gives not only a nice glow, but represents the electrical charges of the body constanting at work. The animation makes the film pop out and stand out over the other children’s fare out this year.
“Inside Out” is a marvel of not just animation, but of film. It’s an intelligent masterwork that does not dumb itself to get its point across and is still entertaining enough for children to enjoy it. “Inside Out” is a rare film in animation that hits every mark just right and never thinks too highly of its own self.
Serg’s Rating: ***** 5 Stars out of 5 Stars
“Inside Out” is rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.
AFTERWORDS *SPOILER ALERT*
I wish this movie came out when I was younger. I suffered through depression and suicidal thoughts as a young kid in middle school and never really felt like it could be properly explained. This movie reminded me of how it was to deal with such heartbreak and thoughts. It is a hellish road and no one really understands what it is. This film carefully explains it in a way that it can be used as a teaching tool for both adults and children alike. I never expected to see a film like this in my lifetime. I teared up genuinely at certain parts involving the self-sacrifice of Bing Bong and Joy being stuck in the memory that there are precious memories we remember and some we use along the way. Sometimes these memories are sugar coated with happiness or driven out by complete sadness, but it is important for us to find a balance in our emotions to learn that even though these memories may fade or remain, we have to learn from them and learn to let out our feelings in a much better manner. I fell in love with this film and awarded the highest rating I could because it was nothing short of impressive.