Inside Out

Posted: June 21, 2015 in Movie Reviews

Emotions_Inside Out

The human mind—–A wonderfully complex and intricate organ of the human body. A thorough study of its neurological sophistication would procure endless hours of facts and near-incomprehensible systematic terminology that would ultimately prove more unclear and confusing as this sentence. So, let’s start again. . .
The human mind—–How does it work? What dictates our emotions and thought process that affect the goings-on of our daily routine? And how can it be explained in a way that both adults and kids alike can equally enjoy and equally comprehend? The answer: leave it to the brilliant minds of Pixar Studios.

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Summary: (No spoilers)
Inside Out explores the mind of 11-year-old Riley and the five emotions residing in her mind: Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Joy (Amy Poehler). Together, these emotions work cooperatively to create the happiest and warmest childhood they possibly can. But when Riley and her parents move from their quant home in Minnesota to a crammed apartment in San Francisco, the drastic change in environment causes Riley’s moods to drastically change.

When Riley’s core memories are sucked out into the recesses of her mind, Joy and Sadness must journey into Long-Term Memory to retrieve them. But as Joy’s absence causes Riley’s perception of life to become bleak, the three other emotions quickly find  their world crumbling around them.

Also starring: Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, and John Ratzenberger.

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Ever since 2010’s Toy Story 3, many have been wondering if Pixar’s inventiveness has gone forever. Although I personally enjoyed both Cars 2 and Brave, they truly were underwhelming achievements by Pixar’s normally-flawless standards. And though Monsters University was almost there, it simply didn’t have the caliber of Toy Story or Up.

“Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a person’s head?” the movie asks right off the bat. The question is rhetorical; of course we have. But, up until now, no film—–animated or non—–has ever truly taken the opportunity to create an entire narrative that shows the thought process behind our constant actions.

In that sense, this is Pixar’s most original film ever. And that is no exaggeration. You thought a monster factory that collects children’s screams or a rat with gourmet taste was original? Watch Inside Out and be blown away. Leave it to Pixar to come up with a storyline so revolutionary and so utterly unique that you suddenly find yourself unable to conclude what will happen. This is one thing that Pixar has always (except for one or two hiccups) been able to do so unequivocally well.

Amy Poehler_Inside Out

The voice acting in this film is perfect. Something else I greatly admire about Pixar is that they never pursue celebrity voices for the sake of making the film appealing. For every Tom Hanks and Billy Crystal, there are a dozen actors who are used because their voice truly fits with their character. Inside Out doesn’t boast a wide array of big-name star power. But as you’re watching it, it becomes readily apparent that Inside Out doesn’t need  big-name star power. Because each character works so effortlessly and efficiently that you fall in love with each one’s unique personality.

Big kudos especially to Phyllis Smith’s Sadness and Amy Poehler’s Joy. With Eeyore-like melancholy, Sadness shows us that even the happiest of memories and experiences need some sadness to create balance. The same with Fear, Anger, and Disgust; all of them are vital for a well-balanced life. Joy essentially runs Riley’s childhood with a “never anything but happy” ever-so-slightly domineering mentality (though in no way does she come as anything but positive).

Riley’s daily memories, in the form of glowing orbs, come flooding into the command center almost constantly, and her memories are nearly always yellow (signifying a happy memory). But over the course of the film, you discover that happiness without the effect of some sadness or fear or anger easily becomes less meaningful. Because, ultimately, happy experiences are only so because they’re not sad; and without experiencing sorrow, what makes a happy experience positive in the first place? And, furthermore, the sadness we experience in life is often the precursor to more uplifting feelings.

In a nutshell:

Brimming with warmth and cleverness, Inside Out  is exactly the kind of film Pixar excels at making: totally and completely unique. With true-to-life and relatable scenarios, effectively creative humor, no lack of emotional teary-eyed moments, and memorable characters made to adore, it’s no wonder this film is considered a contender for Best Picture (yes, Best Picture) at this year’s Academy Awards. After five years of animated films that never quite hit the prestigious mark, I can say with absolute assuredness, “Welcome back, Pixar. Welcome back.”

 

9.5 stars

 

 

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