We are entering what I am prematurely calling the Pixar Renaissance. Much like it’s parent company that had its golden age of movies, followed by crap no one cared about (though I retain my opinion that The Black Cauldron is amazing and the rest of you are all wrong), followed by the revival of the studio via movies like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid; Pixar has risen from the depths of Cars 2, Brave, and that stuff with the planes. That was Pixar right?
Inside Out is that perfect Pixar blend of unique ideas (that someone will inevitably find an inferior predecessor for) presented in ways that both adults and children can enjoy. Which is ultimately the perfect business model, because pandering to children is useless because it’s the adults that pay the price of admission. And maybe they’ll buy tickets for their kids and drop them off at the theater. But isn’t it so much better to get the adults buying tickets for their kids and themselves?
The story revolves around the rather mundane issue of Riley, the girl whose head we are looking inside, and her family moving to San Francisco, and going through the emotional turmoil of moving towns. It’s a fairly basic plot, but the true story goes on inside her head and even something so simple takes on a great new twist as we examine the creativity of the world Pixar has created for us.
In a movie where the characters are made to be cookie cutter, their basic personalities being dictated by necessity by a single emotion, we have a strong cast of characters that go beyond what one could expect from the presented setup. Amy Poehler is an absolute boss as Joy, and somehow manages to stay true to her character’s role, while at the same time providing a broad range of emotions.
Co-Star Phyllis Smith as Sadness captures the essence of sadness, while at the same time playing a sympathetic character.
Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black take more of a supporting cast role as well as in an interesting twist the unwitting antagonistic role, as Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Lewis Black in particular steals the show from Amy Poehler whenever he is on screen.
It is worth noting that four out of the five main members of the cast personify negative emotions, and yet Inside Out has the maturity to deal with those emotions for what purposes they actually serve. It would be easy to cast Anger, or Sadness, as the villainous emotions, and yet the purpose of all these emotions and their function in an emotionally mature individual are all explored.
Pixar seems to have their niche in exploring emotional development through childhood. With the Toy Story Trilogy it involved examining growing into adulthood from the perspective of Andy’s toys. Much like Corinthians 13:11 speaks of putting away childish things, Toy Story took that concept and interpreted it in a literal sense. Considering we have a generation whose main form of rebellion is hanging on to what they enjoyed as children I can’t help but appreciate how they took the time to show that moving beyond what we enjoyed as children isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That being said, you’ll pry my shonen anime from my cold dead fingers before I give that childhood joy up.
Also, bet you didn’t think I could get all biblical in a Pixar movie.
Inside Out takes a look at growth from childhood into adulthood from literally inside our main character’s head. While at the same time touching on a subject matter that even a lot of adult viewers can relate to. Simplified to be sure, but in our current society I think everyone can relate to Riley’s struggle throughout the movie. We’ve all felt at the mercy of our emotions at times, and I think simplifying them into personifications really helps drive home the importance of balance between said emotions. We can’t ever not be sad, but being sad isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know that I was close to tears at some moments during the movie…okay most of the movie. I don’t actually remember seeing good chunks of the movie because I was trying my best not to cry.
So if you’re having emotional turmoil, I think you could do significantly worse than watching this movie. Then once you’ve had a good laugh and cry, go see Jurassic World for the greatest climax in dinosaur action movie history.