Since a substantial part of my major has to do with animation stuff, as well as making stuff in my free time, you could say I was excited to see what Pixar had up their sleeve with Inside Out. Pixar is one of the few animation companies I’ve found that has the ability to consistently put out original animation movies, and when they do happen to make sequels, they don’t compromise the originals, if you ignore Cars 2 of course. And after watching the movie, I have to say, it does not disappoint. This is probably one of the most visually striking and emotional pieces Pixar has made to date, and not just because it stars a young girl’s feelings as the main protagonists.
The film follows Riley, a native Minnesotan and otherwise happy 11-year-old girl who is finding it hard to transition to a sudden move to San Francisco. Making matters worse, her emotions have started losing control over how Riley acts in these tough scenarios, with Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, attempting to rein in Riley and stop Sadness, portrayed by Phyllis Smith, from taking control of Riley and making her sad. Through this short time in Riley’s life, we mostly follow Joy and Sadness as they are accidentally expelled from their control room and attempt to return Riley to normal.
What I found interesting first and foremost was the similarities to the animated film Osmosis Jones. Having parts of your body anthropomorphized such as your feelings or white blood cells, then having them journey throughout your body trying to figure out how to fix you is a very striking resemblance to have. However, Inside Out combats this resemblance by creating moments that makes the viewer think about their own mind, like how a song gets stuck in one’s head, or how we dream. It’s moments like these that poke at the heart of the movie, a young girl who is alienated and isn’t sure how to feel.
In terms of art and animation, Pixar made something completely new. I felt like Riley’s mind was a cross between The Jetsons and a children’s pop-up book. And while the scenery was striking, I always found myself way more interested on the emotions, especially Joy and Sadness. Many remember Poehler as Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation and Smith as Phyllis Lapin-Vance on The Office, and I’ve got to say, they killed it in not only their portrayals, but their chemistry as a pair of opposing emotions. With Riley usually being a happy girl, Joy is used to being in charge with Sadness as the submissive lesser used emotion that sits to the side and reads the manuals, and when this dynamic is shifted, it is difficult for all feelings involved.
So, I almost always have one caveat with every film, and here’s mine with Inside Out. I liked it, and thought it was very good, but I don’t think I would want to see it again. This isn’t a bad thing for a movie, but I consider it similar, but obviously not on the same level, as a film like Requiem for a Dream. Both are fantastic movies, but also emotionally draining. That’s not to say I don’t rewatch sad movies and that Pixar hasn’t made any sad movies, Up and the Toy Story trilogy are obvious examples of both accounts. While Inside Out, like other Pixar movies, end happily, this film hit emotional lows that none of the previous films had before with a sense of loss and emptiness in moments that were very powerful. Meaning, my recommendation is that this a must see at the very least once, because it is one of the most powerful animated movies to date.