Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Writers: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader
Voice Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paula Poundstone, Bobby Moynihan, Paula Pell, Dave Goelz, Josh Cooley, Frank Oz
Synopsis: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
10 / 10
- Great animation and cinematography work
- Art direction was amazing
- If you have a chance to see it in 3-D, then it's definitely worth it.
- The characters are likable
- The film features a lot of deep subtext that's rather interesting
- Great direction
- Solid script that explores that concept of personification of the human mind quite well.
- Some of the elements to the story might be too complicated for Disney's preferred audience, but it's still sensible enough for kids to follow it okay.
Arguably one of the best animated Pixar films of all time
To be fair, "Inside Out" is NOT the first visual personification of the human mind portrayed by characters on a entertainment medium before . However, it's arguably the most interesting one that uses that concept to create something emotionally potent and inspiring.
I know many young readers might think that "Inside Out" derived it's concept from that one brief "Spongebob Squarepants" episode entitled, "Squilliam Returns." However, it was originally used in the short lived TV sitcom on Fox called "Herman's Head", where characters were used to represent the abstract idea of thought inside a person's head, as they helped dictate Herman's throughout the series.
And if you want to go back even further, there's been quite a few short cartoons that used the same visual personification of what goes on in a character's head as well.
But to give credit where credit is due, "Herman's Head" was never able to do anything great with the concept, as it was more of a novelty if anything, and it only showed this representation inside one character's head throughout the show.
Whereas Pixar's "Inside Out", you're not only seeing what goes on inside one girl's head, but you periodically see what goes on inside the head of other characters she interacts with from time to time.
It's interesting to watch, and it definitely adds a new spin on the concept. The story focuses on a young preteen girl named Riley, who grew up in Minnesota. She's a bit of a tomboy, who relishes in playing ice hockey with her friends and family. In fact, you could argue that her life is avoid of any kind of serious problems.
But like most children, she's forced to accept the reality that things change over time. Sometimes events happen that are beyond our control, and it forces us to adapt. This is a new concept for Riley, and it's one that she struggles to overcome. But the story doesn't focus exclusively on her. It focuses on personification of her emotions that help dictate her actions, as they reside inside her head.
Inside her head, she has the living personification of her basic fundamental emotions, who's names are self explanatory to their primary functions. You have emotions such as Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust. Anger handles all of Riley's issues whenever she feels upset about something. Fear keeps her safe. Disgust is in charge of monitoring anything that's dangerous to Riley both socially and physically (i.e. broccoli). Of course, Joy is the glue the holds them all together, as it's her job to make sure Riley lives a happy life.
And then there's sadness, who nobody seems to know what her basic function happens to be outside of making Riley sad on occasions. This often leads to Joy trying to shun her away from having any say in Riley's actions, as she even brings up the idea on how Sadness' job should be to stand in a circle, while the rest of them do all the work to help Riley on a day to day basis.
However, things change when Riley starts her first day at a new school. As she introduces herself to the class, Sadness does something that triggers a series of events that cause both her and Joy to get sucked deep into Riley's mind; thus preventing her from feeling any other emotions outside of fear, anger and disgusts from that point forward.
With little time to spare, Joy and Sadness must figure out how to get back to headquarters before everything Riley has ever known falls apart.
Without delving too much into spoiler territory, Joy eventually learns that even though nobody wants to be sad, but sometimes we need to feel sad in order for us to move on in life. Sometimes when we lose something that we hold dear, we can't just put on a smiley face, and expect things to go back to normal. It would be like asking a person that lost their loved one to cancer to put on a smiley face, and pretend it never happened immediately after they died. It doesn't work that way, as we sometimes need to grieve over those sad bitter feelings before we can come to grips with them.
And like the movie states in a later scene, sometimes sadness can bring people together in times of adversity.
Similar to what we've seen in Pixar's earlier films like "Up" and "Wall-E" that seem to lean more towards the adult audience than Disney's preferred kiddie ones, "Inside Out" seems to be in the same vein. Granted, that's not to say there's anything BAD in it for kids, as most children will comprehend most of the story just fine.
Plus, the humor should still be witty and charming to most audiences; regardless of the viewer's age. However, there's a lot of Freudian subtext that may go over most kids' heads, but maybe that's a good thing.
Like Jeremy Jahns once said in his "Smurfs 2" review a while back, sometimes having adult references that go over a kid's head may be a good thing for the film's long term success. Even if your child is unable to grasp some of the subtext in "Inside Out", it allows them to pick up on new things as they get older watching the movie. As they get older, they'll start to pick up on the Freudian subtext that the movie tries to convey about how sadness is always at war with happiness, yet you need both to be equally balanced in life. And over that period of time, they'll only grow to appreciate the movie even more, as it'll give them more reasons to come back to it.
As for the voice acting, I was fairly impressed by it; especially by the performances of Amy Poehler (Joy) and Phyllis Smith (Sadness), as they were the heart and soul of the film itself. Not to mention Lewis Black was hilarious playing Anger
As for the animation and cinematography, everything seemed fairly well done. I especially loved how imaginative the movie was, as you can tell whoever did the art direction for this movie did a fabulous job. In fact, I would argue that this movie is probably one of Pixar's best in terms of it's visuals, as it's aesthetics alone help it stand out from it's competition. Granted, you could argue that certain aspects were kind of ripped off from "Osmosis Jones", like the control panel inside a person's brain to control their actions. Or, you could cite how all the people living inside one's head see movies based on the host's dreams and memories is an exact rip off of what "Osmosis Jones" did. Yes, we get all that.
But to be fair though, I do think we should look over the facts. "Osmosis Jones" may have introduced some of those aspects that Pixar deliberately or unintentionally stole, but Warner Bros never went anywhere with them; outside of introducing them as a novelty. For all extents and purposes, "Osmosis Jones" at heart was nothing more than a generic buddy cop film disguised as an animated movie about a white blood cell and cold pill fighting a deadly disease within Frank's body.
Whereas "Inside Out", it not only takes those aspect from "Osmosis Jones", but it manages to do something inspiring and unique with it. Throughout the film, you often see how some of our basic emotions can often be at war with each other, and how difficult it is to balance them sometimes. However, one can't live without happiness, and one can't live without experiencing sadness. Like comedy and drama when it comes to theater, sadness and joy go hand in hand with each other.
Although some of the deep psychological aspects this movie explores might go over kids' heads, it's still sensible enough to where most kiddies will understand the bare gist of it. Even if you don't have any kids, it's still worth checking out in theaters, as this is probably one of the deepest Pixar films ever made.