"I'm Joy, this is Sadness, that's Anger, this is Disgust, and that's Fear. We're Riley's emotions."
Pixar is the king of animation today, or at least it was. But recently some cracks have started to appear in the armour, being absent from 2014 all together, losing out both critically and commercially to Disney’s Frozen in 2013 and making Cars 2 in 2012. But with the acclaimed director of Monsters Inc and Up, Pete Docter, returning to direct this major emotion picture, are the animation giants about to make a comeback?
Riley’s life takes an even more tremulous route when she is suddenly uprooted and moved as her father takes a new job in San Francisco. Guided by her emotions Fear, Anger, Joy, Sadness and Disgust she struggles to adjust to her new life. Worse still the emotions in her head are starting to have turmoil of their own.
You’ve probably heard this from about a million people already, but Inside Out is Pixar’s best film since Toy Story 3, and though that is only five years ago it just shows the strength of their work, and overall I would probably rank this film around the fifth position overall, yes it really is that good. So what works with Inside Out, well for a start it is wonderfully inventive, it’s not just another sequel like Cars 2 or Monsters University or something that has already been done a million times like Brave. This is an extremely inventive, imaginative, clever and intelligent story that just feels original. Though I’m sure some have pondered this idea before of personifying emotions Pixar’s anatomy of the human mind here and the detail they display while doing it is astounding.
Few film in recent memory have managed to conduct a study of the mind as complex as this. Yes we probably don’t really have yellow sentient beings that represent emotions (one of which voiced by Amy Poheler) telling us what to do. But in terms of seeing the conflict between each motivation and emotion, the way that people are influenced by memories and the power of escapism held within one’s own imagination are all addressed and excellently portrayed.
This is also a deeply layered film. The character of Riley could have simply become a template, a base, a model from which events could have played out like some kind of vessel rather than a living person. But instead there are many complex levels to her character and rather than it feel as if the emotions in her head are running inside her, they feels as if they are genuinely a part of her. The result is an incredibly mature film, for a kid’s films at least. There was no moment in this film that felt like it had been made for children but at the same time there was nothing to put children off. It is the complete definition of a family film, something that defies any age limit and instead makes itself universally relatable and recognisable.
Like Pixar’s best films, for any kid that watches this today, you’ll laugh and be entertained, but at the same time I think it will take a larger meaning for those children as they get older and re-watch it. Look at the Toy Story Trilogy, Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, those kind are simply pleasurable adventures as a child, but as an adult you can see the detail and depth these animations use to explore the human experience and the sentiments they practise.
Now of course this is very deep and philosophical, famously not a good time for kids. But believe me when I say that Inside Out is a wonder to watch. The humour is generated from the imagination behind the world that Pixar create here, and the chemistry and interactions between the various emotions. This could also be the next Pixar film to truly break into pop culture the same way that other animated classics. And of course it’s Pixar so you know the animation is stunningly beautiful and you know that you’re likely to cry at some point.
A universally enjoyable film in every sense of the word, a genius of movie making.