Movie Review: Inside Out is almost too clever…


…but in a good way.


I was finishing my thought from the title of this post. Inside Out is almost too clever for it’s own good. An interesting look at the thought process and emotions of a eleven-year old girl named Riley. Now Riley and her parents move to San Francisco because of her father’s starting his own business. We get to see a little of her life before the move, and it’s mostly been a non-stressful eleven years. The trick here, with Inside Out, is that Riley’s thought process and actions are determined through the way her emotions (which have been personified) operate a central control system in her brain. So the emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear cooperatively work Riley through everyday life, and garner memories that are represented in this film by little, colored marbles. The marbles are the color of whatever emotion Riley ties to that memory. So sadder memories are blue, Joyous occasions are a bright, shiny yellowish color, etc.


The movie plays around with the idea of the way emotion influences our behavior. The choices we make, our actions, and memories can and usually are determined by emotion. How something makes us feel. And the reverse angle, how we are sometimes forced to do things, in spite of how we feel. Inside Out explores the maturation of a little girl into her pre-teen years. She’s moving, so now she fears things will be different. She thinks back on happier times in her hometown of Minnesota, and feels saddened. She recalls the joy she had playing with her best friend, and Riley is angry at her parents for moving. See how it works here? So during most of the movie the emotions Riley is feeling are anger, disgust, and fear–the personified emotions of Joy and Sadness are unavailable, as they’re having to navigate a changing landscape that represents Riley’s maturation as a girl. But also the way she’s reacting to the drastic, unwelcome changes in her life. It’s an incredibly insightful way to view human nature, and Pixar managed to make me feel something throughout the chronicling of Riley’s adapting to change.

The movie has a little something for children and adults, as the characters of Emotion (so to speak) interact with one another in a comedic harmony that holds even the slower parts of the movie together. There’s a scene that was supposed to probably stand out as a more positive part of the film that otherwise fell flat for me, other than the fact that Joy and Sadness kept the scene afloat. Well, Joy and Sadness–and another character I won’t spoil for you here. The voice acting for Inside Out was as colorful as the memories that have been organized into Riley’s mind. And why wouldn’t it be. Check out the graphic below:


So check out Inside Out, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a return to form for Pixar, I think, and it is a well-paced, cleverly directed movie. Hats off to Pete Docter and the rest of Pixar; this one may end up being a classic in the same vein of Monsters Inc.

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