Inside Out (2015)

Humans are complicated creatures. And as a human, there has never been a truer statement said that can describe us. We’re filled with an enormous amount of different thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, dreams, likes, dislikes, motivations, and goals that we all have to balance on a day-to-day basis. From the moment we’re born, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions begin to mold who we are and shape our personalities based on our surroundings. Pixar’s Inside Out takes the concept of growing up and gives it an inventive twist – 5 emotions at the control center inside our head’s that decide every aspect of life – from what we say to what we eat to choosing our hobbies to the food we like and dislike and everything in between.

Out of the 14 previous films Pixar has digitally brought to life, Inside Out perfectly sums up what it’s like to be human. Written by Josh Cooley, Meg LeFauve and Peter Doctor, the latter also serving as director, the story follows Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) from birth to age 11. In that span of time, Riley experiences Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Rage (Lewis Black). All normal emotions that we all live with every day.

Over the years, Riley develops memories that begin to make up her personality. Some of these memories that are created are called core memories in which all will fundamentally define Riley as a person into adulthood. And the core memories are all pretty standard for an 11-year-old. But life changes and things happen that can severely impact a person. For example, Riley’s parents (Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan) decide to move from their hometown in Minnesota to San Francisco for her dad’s new job. For a kid whose entire life is in one place, uprooting that life can do some terribly damaging things like creating a sad core memory. The once joyful Riley who loves her family, being a goofball, playing hockey, spending time with her friends is no more.

Desperate to keep Riley happy after an accident in headquarters, Joy gets stuck in the long-term memory section of Riley’s mind with the reluctant addition of Sadness tagging along, making things worse. With their absence felt, Disgust, Fear, and Anger take control, changing Riley for the worse – her entire personality shifts and snowballs. The moving truck gets lost, the closest pizzeria only sells broccoli slices, the new house is cramped and dirty and most importantly, Riley is far away from her friends and hockey.

Life cannot possibly get any worse. Spoiler alert, it can. But life can also get better.

Anyone who has moved to a new town, city or state knows how terrifying it is being at a new school with zero friends and busy parents. Doctor, Cooley, and LeFauve put us right into Riley’s shoes, staying with her through the hurt, making it easy to understand her pain, frustration, and sadness.

But this is where Inside Out’s profoundly engaging themes begin to take shape. Split between Riley outward facing and inside on the emotions, forcing one emotion to overpower the others is just as harmful as losing pieces of yourself due to changing circumstances. Joy is desperate to keep Riley happy but fails to understand how different emotions blended together create a more complete outlook on life. We as humans need to feel sadness, disgust, fear and anger along with joy, otherwise life will be incomplete. Emotions are valuable to our DNA, making us who we are and if one or more are missing than the worst can happen – depression can take over.

Pixar has always addressed mature themes and messages within its kid friendly films of imaginary and in adamant object characters and Inside Out is no different. Doctor, Cooley and LeFauve make that the center point of their screenplay crafting the film with sensitivity toward those who are going through a rough patch and staying true to their ambitious nature. The standard that Pixar sets out and revolutionizes the medium with their outstanding animation is the best it’s ever been – colors are vibrant and non-human character designs are stylized while human characters are full of little realistic details.

For 95 minutes Inside Out is a journey of exploration on a deep emotional level. Not just for Riley as she copes with her new life and the growing pains but for the emotions as well. At the start, each emotion sees life as black and white. You can feel joy or sadness separately but as Joy and Sadness find their way back to headquarters, they come to the realization that these 5 emotions need each other to be truly happy. Some of the best memories can be sad ones or fearful ones that can be comforted by the joy someone else brings while the sadness or fear taking over.

Inside Out boasts creativity in the design of the human mind. Sections of long term memory, the subconscious, dreams, and memory dump are sprawling and audacious ,putting imagination in the foreground with details upon details that make up how a mind works. From daydreams to imaginary friends and love interests, Pixar’s strength captures the spectacle of bringing all of these aspects to a more tangible reality. Riley isn’t the only one who’s controlled by emotions, both mom and dad have their versions of the 5 emotions that mirror their character designs. And the depiction of emotions are accurate to the stereotypical mannerisms of a family interaction.

Easily, the best depiction comes at the end of the story, 1 year later when Riley bumps into a pre-teen boy whose only though is panic from all 5 emotions.

Inside Out holds its own when it comes to the emotional weight it carries on its shoulders. One of Pixar’s best efforts throughout its groundbreaking history, the subject matter stands the test of time along with the gorgeous animation and messages of the human spirit. Funny and charming as it is thoughtful dense, there is something for any age group to get latched onto and engaged for the evenly paced runtime.

Story By: Ronnie del Carmen & Pete Doctor

Screenplay By: Josh Cooley, Meg LaFauve & Pete Doctor

Directed By: Pete Doctor

Music By: Michael Giacchino

Cinematography: Patrick Lin (camera) & Kim White (lighting)

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan

Where to Watch: Disney Plus

Edited By: Kevin Nolting

Release Date: June 19, 2015

Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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