After the colossal success of Monsters Inc, Up and the legendary Toy Story trilogy, Disney/Pixar is back with another movie to make audiences of all ages laugh, cry and reminisce as Inside Out explores the ups and downs of childhood.
Disney/Pixar’s newest blockbuster ‘Inside Out’ is an intriguing, smart and heart-warming take on childhood. The story follows Riley, an 11 year old girl who moves with her loving mum and dad from Minnesota to San Francisco and Riley’s charming emotions inside her head. Riley’s personal highs and lows are conveyed through her characterised emotions including Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), who was my favourite and most likely to be turned into Twitter and Tumblr memes, Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kailing) and Fear (Bill Hader). All the emotions are loveable, somewhat relatable and each has an interesting character dynamic.
One of Riley’s lows is moving from her childhood home, to having to cope with moving to a dark, gloomy and cramped house in San Francisco. Riley must not only leave her beloved Ice Hockey team mates and friends behind, but must also start a new school.
Eventually, Sadness and Joy are separated from the others with the core memories which give Riley her personality (which takes the form of personality islands in the film). Joy and Sadness becomes the dynamic odd couple as they are ejected from headquarters and into the realms of Riley’s brain in search of a way back. Inside Out transforms itself into an adventure movie as the pairing of two polar opposite emotions creates an interesting and humorous dynamic as both, alongside Riley’s part dolphin-cat-candyfloss imaginary friend Bing Bong, explore Riley’s long term memories in the form of a giant pin ball library, her dream centre in the form of a sitcom set and her train of thought. But, trouble occurs back at headquarters and Riley’s personality becomes almost non-existant! Joy, Sadness and Bing-Bong must make it back before it’s too late.
Inside Out showcases the progression of childhood, growing up and life changes through strong emotional resonance and outstanding animation.
The movie’s concept alone is pure genius and incredibly clever and ambitious. Not only do we see inside Riley’s mind, but also the mind of her parents during a dinner table conversation between Riley and her parents which soon becomes heated. As we delve inside the minds of parents, adult audiences will resonate with the struggles of parenting. Inside each human’s mind are emotions which are characterised and personified as miniature controllers of their host body.
The pairing of Joy and Sadness is poignant to the films plot. Back in headquarters, Sadness keeps toughing Riley’s happy core memories from life back in Minnesota, thus, turning them into sad ones. Joy separates Sadness from the other emotions and even abandons Sadness along the way. However, Joy and Sadness manage to work together and discover that memories can be both joyful and sad thus, finding a way to find happiness out of a saddening experience.
Although the film revolves around her experiences, Riley’s focus and the audience’s interest lies secondary to the characterised emotions. However, Pete Docter, the writer, director and animator made the smart decision not to make Riley a stereotypical “girly girl”. She plays hockey and her thoughts are not consumed or defined by popular mean girls or a cute boy crush although, both aspects are explored by the film. Furthermore, the biographical aspects of the movie only make Inside Out all the more captivating. While young audiences may not take any notice, Docter was an introverted and socially isolated child who used his imagination to survive his awkward childhood years. Docter also relocated from his native Minnesota to Denmark leading him to place all his focus on his hobby of drawing and animation. It is no surprise that a man whose childhood consisted of developing and widening his imagination through animation would go on to create such a complex and multifaceted film which sets the standard for animated movies which appeal to audiences of all ages. Parents can wince and relive their awkward childhood, such as crying in class, while young kids laugh at the hilarious conflicts between the emotions.
Inside Out is incredibly inventive, engaging and thought provoking. The situations which Riley experiences are relatable to audiences both young and old. Although the exploration into the pains of childhood has been explored many times before in various forms, Inside Out manages to remain fresh and original while the voice cast keep the movie cheerful and their characters multi-dimensional, with depth and personality despite preconceptions indicating monotonous characters.