Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Directed by: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Starring: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith
Pixar have a persistent habit of crafting charming, intelligent, heart-warmingly magical movies (when they aren’t racing Cars, that is). Inside Out is no different; in fact, it might be one of the most impressive feature films from the studio to date.
The premise of Pixar’s latest is probably old news now to most film fans, but it’s nevertheless worth setting out again here. We open with a voiceover from Amy Poehler’s character Joy, as she emerges into the world alongside (or, well, inside) baby Riley. From this starting point, we see Riley grow up from toddler to pre-teen, and the appearance of the four other leading emotions that control Riley’s thoughts and actions in the young girl’s daily life, from waking to sleeping (although not dreaming, which is controlled – as we meet in truly original Pixar style – by other workers populating Riley’s inner world).Riley has five emotions who reside and work in her mind’s headquarters: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger, who are there ready to face every problem or happy occasion that occurs in the day-to-day, whether by subtly encouraging her responses to situations or rather haphazardly and irrationally influencing her actions and behaviour (Anger, it seems, for the latter).
Eleven-year-old Riley leads a perfect, joy-fuelled life, until her whole world gets turned upside down when she has to move across the country from her childhood home, friends and hockey team in Minnesota, to San Francisco, where her Dad has set up his new business. While she has to deal with this upheaval, even more starts to go awry when an accident occurs in emotion HQ and some of Riley’s ‘core memories’ – the building blocks of her personality – become lost, and Joy and Sadness get swept away to the outerlands of Riley’s mind. The story from then on is a race to set everything right before Riley’s entire world comes crashing down.
You might think this could be a bit too far-fetched an idea to pull off, or possibly too complex for a younger audience to grasp, but Pixar’s storytelling genius always shines through. What makes this film so perfect is its blending of childish fun (from slapstick moments to a truly ingenious running gag about why the most annoying tunes just seem to be caught in a loop in your head) with some more adult concepts – from abstract psychology to behavioural dynamics and self-sacrifice – all tied up in tear-jerking, soul-stirring fashion. At this point, we really expect nothing less from Pixar.
Another masterpiece to add to their oeuvre, this film is colourful, funny, brave; in other words, awesome. The animation is fantastic, the voice-acting superb and the story practically flawless. In the screening I was in, the audience applauded at the end, and parents were un-selfconsciously wiping tears from their eyes as the credits rolled – out of joy, I think, not sadness (although, the lesson learned from this film is maybe it can be a mixture of the two).