Hey guys! I’m new to WordPress, so to get a feel for the site and how it suits my hobbies of reviewing movies, my first reviews/posts will be ones that I’ve already written. In the spirit of the new year, I will be posting only my “Top 10” and “Bottom 5” movies of 2015 (or at least for the ones I wrote reviews for). Enjoy and let me know what everyone thinks. 🙂
Pixar. The name alone generates enough excitement to wear out a child for days. Emotional grenades are inevitable and our only defense is to jump straight on top of them and let them do their thing to us. Can’t fight it, y’all. This movie was certainly looking like it would be no different from the greats like the Toy Story movies, UP, WALL-E, you get the idea. I was excited, bought my ticket, and here’s what I have to say.
The story follows Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old girl and the five personified emotions in her mind: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), who is responsible for making Riley happy. Fear (Bill Hader), who is responsible for keeping Riley safe. Anger (Lewis Black), who is responsible for keeping Riley balanced with Joy, and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), who gives Riley preferences on what she likes. Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith), however, feels like an extra wheel due to not believing she has a real role to play in Riley’s mind. However, the family is moving and Riley is having trouble adjusting to her new life. Simultaneously, Sadness causes a disturbance in Riley’s mind and she and Joy are thrust from Headquarters into another part of Riley’s mind and so begins a journey back to where they belong to prevent Riley’s slowly decaying happiness from destroying her life.
This movie had me in tears multiple times. It is absolutely fantastic. Heartfelt, relatable, and hits home on so many levels.
Pixar has a reputation of putting forth a lot of research into their projects before creating a story around it. While this story certainly has a familiar fish-out-of-water feel to it, it’s cleverly disguised as a fun psychological film, which is something unexpected out of Pixar in recent years. Don’t get me wrong, I liked BRAVE and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY as much as the next guy, but INSIDE OUT really took it to a different, creative, and challenging level. It seemed like there was a lot of thought put into how a child’s mind worked and it really shows. An argument could be made that emotions are far more complex and hardly as simple as this movie made them out to be, but as limited as they may be, there’s a ton of subtle complexity that I think a lot of well-deserved credit is being given.
For example, too often in life, when children cry, we have adults telling us to stop crying… like it’s something to be shameful of. That it makes us weak and less than what we should be. But Pixar turns that around, saying just because we have sad memories in our lives doesn’t mean we can’t be happy people, and that CRYING IS OKAY. Dear lord, I’m writing this right now and I have a hard time keeping the tears in. Could be the late night poinsettia talking, but shouldn’t that say something about a film too? No? Then back on track.
Upon reading a review on Collider.com, reviewer Matt Goldberg, stated “But where the film really starts to expand are in the recesses of Riley’s mind, and this where Inside Out shows itself to be more about the journey than the characters.” I agree with maybe half of that statement. Yes, the journey through Riley’s dreams, and personality islands are certainly whimsical and visually appealing, I do whole-heartedly believe that Poehler and Smith’s portrayals, respectively, as Joy and Sadness really keep the audience engaged and grounded. While we can certainly be distracted by the ever-identifiable nightmarish clown fears, the haunting pit of the Abyss, I never forgot about Joy’s optimism, or Sadness’ despair, and always rooting for them to get back to Headquarters, despite how much fun I’m having watching Fear, Anger, and Disgust doing a horrible job at doing Joy’s job.
In fact, one of the most heart-breaking scenes in the movie is seeing Joy in the Abyss ready to give up. Poehler’s performance takes an iron-grip of your heart-strings and violently yanks until even the most stone-cold person will struggle not to feel for Joy.
What really gets me is that there are no annoying characters, or pointless ones. Everyone’s role is put to good use and occasionally written surprisingly well. Sadness could have easily been made to be a mopey, uninteresting character with no redeeming value, but she is very likable, and does serve a vital function in the story, especially toward the end. And although Sadness is a more central character than Disgust, Anger, and Fear, the same applies to them as well. Enjoyable, funny, all around well-written.
Despite being devoid of powerful emotional animated films of this magnitude of recent years, even from Pixar, we are finally given the best Pixar film since TOY STORY 3, and could very well be considered their best movie, period. Whatever short-comings that INSIDE OUT may have, of which there are very few, the movie is too touching to be hung up on what doesn’t matter.
A strong 5/5