So, I just got back from seeing Inside Out, a film that eluded me for some time due to scheduling conflicts, poor time management, oversleeping (yes, really), and so forth. But, I finally saw it, and thankfully, the hype for this didn't disappoint at all! Inside Out is a return to form for Pixar, a studio that has never had an unoriginal idea put to screen, and that has only made three comparatively weak movies, Brave, Cars 2, and Monsters University.
But Inside Out has possibly the most original and creative idea at its center that I have ever seen, blending as Pixar does so well comedy with seriousness, adventure with morals, and cuteness with heart. It's the ideas of thought and feeling that are explored in this one, how emotions and the fear and/or denial of certain feelings can affect you. It's a complex idea to be sure, and Inside Out explores this in great ways; maybe not to its fullest (as this film is only an hour and a half), but certainly in ways that captivate and excite while also teaching us something about ourselves. The heart of the film is so strong because it's universal: everyone has emotions, everyone has feelings, and everyone has, at one time or another, wanted to shut certain feelings down or have other feelings and emotions and memories come to the fore.
The notion of memory and how that intersects with feelings is also explored here, and the movie takes that concept and just bends the hell out of it in such clever and unique ways. The gags that result from this are hilarious for the most part, and the more important messages that result from this are masterful and important The five dominant feelings, Anger, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, and Joy, are all lovable in their own ways, the former three being used mostly for comic relief, while Joy and Sadness are the two protagonists of the film. All of these feelings essentially control Riley, a happy kid who falls on hard times as her parents have decided to uproot their lives from Minnesota to San Fransisco, causing her to become more and more lonely and sad, fearful and worrisome, whereas before she was super happy and joyful.
The film takes a wholly fresh and enticing slant on this already captivating and unique idea as it speaks to how being happy all the time can sometimes be a bad or harmful thing. Indeed, Joy seems to want to shield Riley from Sadness so as to keep Riley happy, but the ending message is that you need all types of emotions in order to fully live and thrive, and that's a great message to put in here. It also goes another step and tells us that sometimes it's okay to be sad, that that can lead to good things happening along the way.
The Pixar feels are on full display here as the film goes from hilarious to serious to sad back to happy in such a fluid way. It's awesome how Pixar is able to master that, and they've done that here in spades. Bring some tissues to this one, trust me. The gags and laughs are awesome, as I said. Joy and Sadness are sucked out of the main control tower of Riley's head and have to find their way back to it, navigating the recesses of Riley's mind to do so, which leads to some awesome puns and funny moments that are super clever and cute. (I particularly like when they enter the nightmare world of Riley's subconscious and it's filled with broccoli and a loud vacuum cleaner and a clown.) It's a movie with heart obviously but also with just a great exploration of its central idea and an important and vital message to not be afraid of sadness, to not cage it, because sometimes that can be vital to a moment of happiness and brilliance. That kind of a moral doesn't happen very often in movies, and I felt so refreshed to see it presented this way here.
The voice cast is phenomenal! Lewis Black as the voice of Anger is fucking hilarious, and Amy Poehler drives the film along with her vocal talents. The animation is simple but so fun to watch, offering a great contrast between the drab, slightly Pixar-gritty realism of the real world and the bright, almost Dr. Seuss-like wacky fun world of Riley's head. Everything is here to entice the audience and keep even little kids seated throughout. I saw this with a room full of children, obviously, and their laughter at the jokes and small cries when the movie got sad made this all the more engrossing.
I may have seen this one late, but I'm so glad I did. Inside Out lives up to the hype it's received, the critical acclaim that's been thrown upon it, and the overall joy that lights people up when they talk about this movie. I certainly was entertained, but more than that, I was impressed. Impressed because quite frankly, the movie industry has been oddly uninspired and drab of late with the whole superhero craze, and it was so amazing to see something fresh and exciting and just so damn fun and cute for once! Go see this, you'll have a lot of fun!