DIRECTORS: Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen
May contain spoilers!
Pixar are back on form! It is about time after a raft of lesser sequels to their greater works but as with Pete Docter’s last film, Up (3D) (2009), Inside Out is much more than meets the eye. This is a sophisticated psychological comedy/drama focusing on an 11 year old girl, Riley, as she and her two parents are forced to up and move though her father’s work from Midwest to San Francisco.
The move has left her shaken as, the house is not up to much and everything she has known so far has been left behind, well it would certainly seem that way to her at least. In many ways, this Riley is a child of divorce but wisely, this is not the case and we are not bogged down with the cliché that the only sad children and those who parents separate, but that there are in fact many other ways for children to experience loss without mu and dad going their separate ways.
And it is themes of loss, growing up and putting down childish things which have played out before in Pixar films, especially Toy Story 3 3D (2010) but this is about little else. We are given an intimate view of Riley’s psyche by her the key emotions, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. These five characters drive her 24 hours a day and we are first introduced to both Riley and her emotions in the opening scene, her birthday, as Joy (Amy Poehler) is summoned into existence, soon to be joined by Sadness (Phyllis Smith).
As the years pass, a fully rounded psyche has been constructed, with every facet of her mind being given a manifestation which we, the audience, can relate to. Obviously it is surreal, with memories being given the form of coloured balls, various aspects of her mind being given over to quirky characters but not one is wasted. Everything that happens on screen is a lesson to young and old about the mind, how we use it and how it can grow and be damaged in ways that we least expect.
Obviously to anyone who has the faintest idea about psychology, this is preaching to choir but it does so in a very entertaining way. The characters are funny, touching and informative, whilst the plot is slightly too contrived for my liking, the root of the story about the tragedy of losing our innocence is brilliantly handled.
Moving, thoughtful and entertaining all at the same time, this is what Pixar do best. They develop their films, so when we see Finding Nemo (2003), we are not just watching lazy movie about fish, we are being given a subtle, yet enteraining lesson on marine life and here we have the same. This is child psychology 101+, being presented in way which we can all understand and enjoy.
The writing is first rate, with a the reveal of how Riley’s mind will develop being dropped at the half way point, in a scene which makes up the trailer. We see a glimpse into both her parents minds, with Anger dominating the male psyche and Sadness dominating the mother.
Joy was always second fiddle in the adults minds. The message of the film being that you can not have Joy with Sadness and tragedy can often result in happiness. A truth that many of us simply do not want to accept.
Inside Out is a beautiful film, destined to become a classic and I would suspect may spawn a sequel at some point as the potential for this concept is limitless, as was with Toy Story (1995).
Oh, and I loved the credit stings in which we see various other people and animals from the Inside Out, especially the bus driver who’s only emotions where anger and the teenage boy who meets Riley, who is overcome by the chaos of seeing a girl! Something which never changes.
Highly recommended and a welcome return to form for Pixar, who are best when sticking to original projects and not recycling old ones.