Despite turning healthy profits for Pixar, their last batch of products weren’t the most necessary with sequel offerings ‘Cars 2’ and ‘Monsters University’ trailing in comparison to their predecessors, as well as the animated titles Disney were trolling out to critical adoration (‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Frozen’ to name a few). Thankfully the reunion between Pixar and director Pete Docter (‘Up’) has resulted in ‘Inside Out’, one of the most emotionally charged and beautifully rendered films they’ve ever created, and by far their best since ‘Toy Story 3’.
Successfully functioning as both a children’s adventure film and a bittersweet reflection on youth for the older audiences this film so effortlessly caters to, ‘Inside Out’ presents a group of core emotions (joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust) and physically manifests them into fully realised characters interacting with one another inside the head of young Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), a pre-teen whose happy, functional existence is uprooted when her family moves to a new city. Starting at a new school, having to make new friends, adjusting to her new surroundings, and the general unpredictable nature of growing up causes her emotions to work on overdrive, and when her core memories are unintentionally affected by Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Riley’s recollections are drastically altered as her happy recalls are now sad ones. This event spurs Sadness and Joy (an effervescent Amy Poehler) to travel through the depths of Riley’s mind to salvage her core memories in hopes of stabilising her.
The universe ‘Inside Out’ creates inside of Riley’s head is nothing short of wondrous (her parents, voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan, also get a quick in-mind look, played to more humorous effect though) with the memories showcased as spheres whose individual glowing colours represent a particular emotion; joy is yellow, sadness is blue, anger is red, fear is purple, disgust is green. The film visually breaks down all the peculiarities that make Riley who she is, with one of the highlights being a series of “islands” that represent the factors in her life she cares for the most (family, friends, hockey), and beyond these a succession of vast tunnels that lead to such areas where imaginary friends are stored from her childhood (Richard Kind voicing the creation of Bing Bong will break your heart) and a movie studio lot where dreams are produced. As Sadness and Joy travel deep into the depths of Riley’s mind, it leaves Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) to fend for themselves in the main control room of Riley’s awareness, which in turn affects her in the real world as she tries to cope with her surroundings without the emotions of joy and sadness to balance her out.
Speaking to children without talking down to them, ‘Inside Out’ is truly for all ages as it’s impossible not to reflect on your own life throughout, the film likely to trigger your own childhood memories and stir up the emotions attached to them. Parents viewing are likely to experience this on a different level with them not only likening it to their own youth but to their children’s as well. Quite simply ‘Inside Out’ is a beautiful film, one that delicately balances the splendour of childhood innocence with the loss you experience as you grow up.
My rating: 4.5/5
Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
Classification: PG (Mild Themes)
Review by Peter Gray