Feeling a little emotional guys? I am because I’m so happy at the amazing movie I just saw! I LOVED Pixar’s latest movie- Inside Out. I know it sounds like hyperbole but it may be my favorite Pixar movie. Yes, it may even be better than my beloved Up. I really believe that is true.
Inside Out is great in every way. I loved the characters, world, humor, story, everything. There is nothing I would change. If you are expecting criticism in this review you will be sorely disappointed.
I am going to do my best to keep this review spoiler free. My thought is to then go back in a couple of weeks, once most you have seen it, and post a spoiler review about the small details and goings-on of the plot.
Basically the story of Inside Out is about a girl named Riley (love that Pixar picked a girl). She is a happy 11 year old who is still a little girl and hasn’t grown out of making monkey sounds with her Dad and being goofy.
Unfortunately Riley’s parents are moving her from her hometown of Minnesota to San Francisco, California. This naturally brings up a lot of emotions for a young girl and in this movie those emotions look like…
In the world of the story our minds (not brains) are made up of a mission control of sorts that are run by our 5 emotions:
Joy voiced by Amy Poehler
Sadness voiced by Phyllis Smith
Fear voiced by Bill Hader
Anger voiced by Lewis Black
Disgust voiced by Mindy Kaling
All the voicework in Inside Out is first rate. What I found so remarkable is these characters should be very one-note. They are after all emotions. This should make things very predictable, even grating, but they aren’t at all. Sadness is an especially dynamic character and you come to realize that great relationship between joy and sadness in our lives. It’s brilliant.
The world of the mind is not only staffed by emotions but also is the receptacle for all different kinds of memories. The memories are little glass balls that glow with whatever emotion the memory entails (a happy memory being yellow for joy, fearful memory purple for fear etc). There are also memories for data, long-term, short-term, even a hilarious joke of a song that you can’t get out of your head!
There are also core memories that are the most important for forming Riley. Those core memories are then the supports for the personality islands.
Riley’s personality islands are goofball, honesty, family, friendship and hockey. (I know this sounds complex but it really isn’t).
The 5 emotions are responsible for keeping all the memories in check, the islands floating, and making sure Riley is ok. Unfortunately things go awry when the core memories are lost along with Joy and Sadness. This creates a delightful parallel story between Riley who is all the sudden without the emotions to cope with this huge change and the journey of Joy and Sadness getting home and helping Riley. Plus, Disgust, Anger and Fear have to try and manage Riley as best they can without Joy.
Joy and Sadness end up going through imaginationland, as well as several other parts of Riley’s psyche and subconscious that I won’t spoil. But along the way they meet an old imaginary friend of Riley’s called Bing Bong voiced by Richard Kind. This was an unexpected, unpredictable and wonderfully dynamic character.
I’ll leave the rest of the plot for you to uncover on your own. Let’s just say all the plot strands end up in an ending that is as good as the beginning of Up. For real….
I cried, it made me think about my own emotions and feelings, and it made me laugh really hard. Everything has layers in Inside Out including the jokes. For example, there may be a joke about the subconscious that may go over a kids head but anger getting red, fiery and steamed up will make them laugh- so something for everyone in nearly every scene.
One thing that Pixar does so well (and old school Disney did also) is take kids seriously and this movie does not ‘cutify’ Riley at all. She is a real person with feelings and emotions that affect her family. Seeing into her mind is the equivalent of seeing into her heart and it is a lovely place. She is creative, different, normal and vulnerable. We also get little peeks into the command centers of other characters. They aren’t that different from Riley (again that respect for kids. I love that).
And like I said the ending is perfection.
From an animation standpoint it is stunning. I loved the way the emotions were drawn so that they looked a little fuzzy at the edges, a little ephemeral. I think Riley and her parents are some of the best humans Pixar has done and the world with the memory globes is gorgeous. There are scenes where we get into dimensions where the animation is astonishing and surprising and I loved the way they did the ‘memory dump’ and the almost charcoal like globes down there.
The music by Michael Giacchino does the job but isn’t quite as good as the score for Up which is one of my favorites of all time. It didn’t make me think of my Grandpa like Up did but I am thinking about what my core memories are. We all have them.
And like I said all the voice performances are perfect. The emotions should be one note and predictable but they aren’t. Just like most emotions they are layered and complicated.
But again also very funny. I laughed my head off. I loved a scene where they found tiles of opinions and facts. They get spilled and the conductor tells them ‘they often get mixed up”. That’s the kind of humor we get all over the place (or pizza being on broccoli!).
Very rarely do I see a movie more than once in a theater. The last time I did was Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is a top 10 movie for me (I saw it 3 times in a week…). I guarantee you I will see Inside Out at least 4 times in the theater and will pre-order it on blu-ray as soon as I can. I LOVED it. I couldn’t wait to see it and now I can’t wait to see it again.
Your kids will love it. You will love it. It’s one of the greats. This will definitely be my favorite movie of the year. I can promise you that.
Overall Grade- A+
Here is my youtube review