"Crying Helps Me Slow Down and Obsess Over the Weight of Life's Problems."
I can’t even keep a straight face. It’s Pixar. They’re back. They made another stunning work of art. But I wouldn’t be a critic if I didn’t have SOME problems with it, right?
“Inside Out” is simpler than some other Pixar films in terms of structure. The plot is a fairly simple “let’s get from point A to point B before disaster strikes” set-up. It’s the FRAMEWORK and the character building that allows the writers to work within the confines of the formula the studio has created to stretch their imaginations. A lot of heavy stuff gets tossed around (wouldn’t be Pixar if it wasn’t a tearjerker), but what made me excited that this movie exists was realizing its point for existing. It is, in fact, a story about the point in your life when emotions go from simple to complex. Our five main characters (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger) personify the five “pure emotions” that every human feels (and that every human expresses in the exact same way). Every other emotion exists as a combination of two or more of these emotions, and the more difficult ones to describe (loneliness, lovesickness, ennui) are as such because they can be achieved in different ways. The film runs with this concept by illustrating that each of these emotions are nearly useless by themselves, and no one feeling (even joy) can entirely rule a person’s being without complications. Every feeling has a purpose, and the film puts that into visual terms: we SEE on the screen that a person is capable of feeling both happy and sad about a single event in their life. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any film that’s expressed that sentiment so elegantly.
However, the film’s strength is also its greatest flaw. It’s hard to write for characters who, by definition, only express ONE emotion by default. There are moments of depth and coloring in each of the performances (helped along by the stellar voice acting), but for the most part characterization feels more surface level than a standard Pixar film. This is probably unavoidable, but I noticed it, and especially coupled with the centuries old “Hero’s Journey” storyline, it made me feel like something indefinable was lacking. Some level of soulfulness that couldn’t be reached.
Really though, I feel like a nitpicker for even bringing it up. “Inside Out” is a beautifully made film that takes, while not as many risks as I would like, enough risks to produce a truly original story. Would that ALL filmmakers approached their craft with this much ambition and verve.
Oh man, there are so many options here. A colorful cocktail styled after the emotion of your choice is probably the best way to go.
-Drink when we see an old memory of Riley’s.
-Drink every time the headline on Anger’s newspaper changes.
-Drink every time Joy urges someone to think positively.
-Pick an emotion. Drink whenever someone says their name.
-Drink whenever the characters discuss a new part of Riley’s head (the Subconscious, Long-Term Memory, Abstract Thought, Etc.)
This review was written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). "Inside Out" is produced by Pixar Animation and distributed by Walt Disney Studios. The film is rated "PG" with a runtime of 104 minutes.
A hearty thanks to my patrons Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Caroline Kittredge Faustine and Antonia Beck! Your support helped make this post possible!