Saturday, July 4, 2015

REVIEW: Inside Out

Inside Out

Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith


June 19, 2015

Pete Doctor


1 hour 42 minutes



For the past twenty years, Pixar Animation Studios has delivered on some of the wittiest, coolest, and most original films in recent memory.  These animation magicians have managed to make us laugh at bugs, seek thrill with an old man in a flying house, and cry at the end of a movie about talking toys.  It's as if they know exactly how to get into our minds and tinker with our emotions.  In fact, their latest movie "Inside Out" has its main characters literally consist of the emotional voices in our head. The five emotions that live inside the mind of 11 year old Riley are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear, whose names are pretty self explanatory.  Everything's all good for them until Riley and her parents move from Minnesota to San Francisco, where life starts to change drastically inside her noggin.

In the hands of anyone else at any other studio, there's a chance that this could have been a disaster.  However, we're lucky enough to have Pete Doctor, the director of "Monsters Inc." and "Up" at the helm of this bad boy.  What he does with this story, aside from delivering on some of the funniest and smartest jokes in Pixar history with the help of co-writers Ronaldo Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley, is capture the damaged and ever-changing mind of a young girl who is faced with huge changes in her life.  Aside from being Pixar's wittiest and funniest film to date, this is also their most complex and, well, most emotional as well.  It's ironic to think that a film about emotions would be a studio's most emotional film, but it's honestly the truth.

I haven't felt this emotionally invested in a movie or its characters in a very long time.  As someone who rarely cries or feels empathy towards characters during movies, even in Pixar movies like "Up" and "Toy Story 3," this film really got to me because, in a really strange way, I saw something of myself in the character of Riley.  We all have to grow up at some point, and this film shows how one event in a girl's life can effect her emotions, which in turn effects her personality.  Plenty of things symbolize the deterioration of personality and imagination in this film, and it's all very powerful to watch.  In a way, this is the perfect companion piece to Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," in which this film deals with the inside perspective of a growing adolescent while "Boyhood" shows a growing adolescent from an external point of view.  However for children reading this, if any are reading this, wait a few years for "Boyhood," as it's a very mature film and has lots of things that will go over a child's head.  Not only does the film allude to things like depression, it also metaphorically shows in certain key sequences.

The animators at Pixar alone should get a round of applause for this film, because this is the most beautiful looking film they've made to date.  Not only do the humans and the San Francisco setting look like the most realistic animation the studio's ever created, but the worlds explored while Joy and Sadness venture deep into Riley's mind are especially exhilarating to look at.  There's a particular scene involving Joy, Sadness, and another character named Bing Bong going through this abstract part of Riley's subconscious that is especially amazing to look at.  It feels as if this was Pixar's definitive chance to literally let their imaginations run wild and create anything they want, which has been something of a challenge to do recently because of how limiting the worlds from other films have been.  Normally I wouldn't want a sequel to something as great as this, but considering the endless possibilities this world has, I would absolutely love to see Pixar do more films about these guys and how they react to things like Riley going to high school, going through puberty, etc.

The voice acting in this movie as a whole may be the best Pixar has ever had.  Amy Poehler as Joy brings a lot of laughs and, well, joy to her character, making her a great person to have for a lead.  Lewis Black is perfectly casted as Anger, as are Bill Hader as Fear and Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and they all deliver on fleshed out and hilarious performances.  The two standouts of the cast, though, are Phyllis Smith as Sadness and Richard Kind as Bing Bong.  Without spoiling anything, these characters are not only the most entertaining and deliver on the funniest jokes of the film, but they also have the most emotional complexity to each other and there are scenes with them that will make you turn soft inside because of the "feels" they bring to the table.  If these characters weren't here, I don't think the movie would have been as powerful as it was.

"Inside Out" is a special movie, and one that isn't made as often as it should be.  Not only is it a feast for the eyes, but it's a cuisine for the soul.  The film delivers thanks to its committed cast, a beautiful message about needing all of your emotions, and a pitch perfect blend of comedy and drama.  Every day since I've seen this film I've thought about it in some way, shape or form.  When the comedy hits, it hits absolutely hard.  When the drama hits, tears come shedding from the tear ducts.  I've been recommending this movie to everyone I've talked to, and I'll continue recommending this as the years go on.  I can't wait to see this film again, and I can't wait to go back to this world if Disney and Pixar decides to make sequels to this.  "Inside Out" is funny, heartwarming, deep, and another masterpiece from arguably the best animation studio working today.


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