Inside Out

Movie Review: Inside Out (2015) *Pixar is Back in CLASSIC MODE!*

Inside Out

Something happened to Pixar post-Toy Story 3… became just another animation studio.  Whereas (with the exception of the abomination that was Cars 2) Pixar has been cranking out some of the best animated films ever created since 1995’s original Toy Story, the last few years have been just…good.  But good isn’t good when great is the expectation, and ever since I heard the concept for Pete Docter’s (Monsters Inc, Up) film, I’ve been longing to see Inside Out.  Docter does not disappoint and delivers Pixar’s most imaginative triumph to date.  I’m not saying Inside Out is Pixar’s best film, but I can’t think of any other title in their catalog that has so many literally mind-blowing ideas stuffed into one movie.
Joy, Amy Poehler, Inside Out

I don’t think I’ve ever done this in a review before, but rather than summarize the plot myself, I’m going to plug-in the official synopsis because I really don’t think I can boil this down more simply:
Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions — led by Joy (Amy Poehler) — try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness (Phyllis Smith) to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust.

Inside OutThat concept is so brilliant, the only question was whether or not Docter could fill an entire film with ideas to flesh it out, and that is not a problem AT ALL.  Inside Out explores so many concepts regarding emotions, the nature of memory, the complexity of feelings, how our memories define our personality, how our emotions work together in ways we never imagined and I haven’t even gotten into the subconscious, imagination (including imaginary friends) and nightmare birthday party clowns (I….hate….clowns).  In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that my undergrad Psychology 101 was completely covered (and in a much more enjoyable way) in this 90 minute romp through the mind of an 11-year-old girl.

Joy, Fear, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Inside Out

The voice cast is outstanding, featuring mostly alums from Saturday Night Live and The Office, with Amy Poehler leading the way as Riley’s embodiment of Joy.  Poehler gives the best vocal performance of anyone in an animated film since Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo.  She’s absolutely brilliant.

So is there anything wrong with the film?  Honestly, the only qualm I have, and this is exceedingly minor, is that the film is much more serious that you would think from the advertising and it’s such a deep probing of the inner workings of the mind that I don’t know if this film is going to resonate with kids the way that past Pixar classics have.  Parents may leave with more to chew on then the rugrats.

Inside Out

That’s not to say there aren’t some absolutely hysterical moments in this film.  Once the initial framework of how things work is established, the funniest bits are when we zoom into the minds of other characters to see how their emotions are reacting.  The dinner scene between Riley’s parents and a Riley being entirely run by Anger, Fear and Disgust is classic.  The biggest laughs in the whole film, though, may be over the credits as you get to see inside the minds of various characters, so don’t get up right away.

Inside Out takes its place in the upper echelon of Pixar’s best and snaps the studio out of a slump.  Hopefully this fall’s The Good Dinosaur will continue the trend and we’ll have BOTH Pixar and Disney animation spitting out excellent films.  Then again, sequels to Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story (yes, again) are all in the works, so I’m hoping Inside Out doesn’t get lost in the Jurassic World mania and reminds the studio what they can do when they’re at their very best.

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Inside Out (2015) *Pixar is Back in CLASSIC MODE!*”

  1. After it was over, one of the people I saw it with expressed her surprise that it was not as funny as she thought it would be, but since she was in tears at the time I don’t think she will be bad-mouthing it for that reason, and I don’t think anyone else will, either. And the people who analyze these things are saying it’s going to open in the realm of 80-90 million, so my fears in that department were completely, utterly unfounded.

    I agree it’s not the best Pixar movie, but it’s the most sophisticated by a mile. In fact, no one under Riley’s age will understand what is going on, but the moments where I recognized my own life experience outnumbered the references to Jurassic Park in Jurassic World.

    Inside Out is “nothing more” than a young girl trying to make sense of a flood of emotions in the midst of her family’s move to a new city, yet I was hanging on every plot development like a bomb was hovering over New York. The movie makes you appreciate the universe that exists inside each of us, the wild complexity of our emotions and brains.

    The premise could have led to something creepy and strange, and I was afraid the filmmakers would not be able to get around that. But what really got to me, and made the film work as well as it did, was the way that every entity inside Riley’s head was devoted to watching over her. Every single one of those characters was completely selfless. They loved Riley, and expected nothing in return, which is the real definition of love. I can’t believe the filmmakers SPOILER had the guts to have the imaginary friend sacrifice his very existence for the girl’s good.

    I have to add that it was great to have my man Kyle MacLaughlan in the mix. I hope Twin Peaks Redux gives a boost to his career, because he really is one of the most talented and charismatic actors out there.

    The opening short was inspired. I don’t know what to think about Good Dinosaur. They just replaced the entire voice cast, and apparently the film is still only half-animated. And then a slew of sequels are coming, and that’s not good at all. But Inside Out tells me those things are a series of missteps, and not the result of a policy change at Pixar. And if Inside Out is a huge hit, so much the better. What a wonderful movie.


  2. I almost cried with the whole Bing Bong part. The idea of forgetting something wonderful from your childhood is just unbearable.


    1. That killed me. Pete Docter has this ability to succinctly take the deepest parts of life (like the marriage montage in Up) and convey them in a way like no one else. This film, I think, puts him at the top of Pixar’s director list. If I have to wait another six years for his next film, I know it’ll be worth it. Toss the man the Animated Film Oscar now.

      Liked by 1 person

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