Riley (Kaitlyn Davis) is an 11 year-old hockey player from Minnesota who moves to San Francisco with her mom and dad (Diane Lane & Kyle MacLachlan). During this move and the days following, Riley is experiencing a lot of emotions, which are actually controlled by five key emotions in her head. Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) control how we handle each situation in life. So what happens when Joy and Sadness get lost from the control-room and Riley?
Inside Out finds Disney Pixar delving deeper into the understanding out its audiences as we explore our own emotions. In standard fashion, this animated film has a plethora of kooky characters, each with their own charm and purpose, whether they know what that purpose it. As a grown man (19 barely counts, but just roll with it), I found myself tearing up multiple times due to the raw emotion that emanates from these characters who we spend only a brief time with. It’s natural for everyone to have unexplained emotions which lead to rash decisions, but this film says more about why the good and bad ones are equally as important as everything we feel. For that, Inside Out just might be Pixar’s most personal film to date.
As Joy and Sadness, Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith play polar opposites who just can’t fathom how the other can behave the way they do. The thought of only being completely happy or sad in every situation in your life is frightening, as too much of one or the other can get exhausting. Imagine not being either, left somewhere in the middle where emotions leave you completely out to dry. Poehler’s “everything can be fixed and happy” personality is absolutely charming, almost to the point where we grow a bit tired of it. Smith’s sadness is quite amusing in what she derives joy from (dog’s dying in the end of a movie constitutes happiness in her eyes), but she does get too doom and gloomy for her own good. On their journey together, they learn more about themselves and why we sometimes need sadness to come back to joy.
Without them, Anger, Disgust, and Fear are left to run the ship. Bill Hader’s Fear is the zany character, which he plays to a T. Fear, especially at a young and confusing age, is easy to understand in one’s life. When you lose your source of happiness or sadness, it’s easy to let these other emotions overcome you. They all realize that alone, they can’t provide Riley with a complete life. However, they do get to express themselves just as any angsty person does, ignoring, fearing, or getting mad at the ones we hold closest to us. Sometimes everything can’t be all good. Sometimes we need to vent and let loose all our anger. Sometimes it’s okay to be afraid that things won’t always turn out right. These emotions keep us in check, reminding us of how terrible our situation can get when we don’t feel joy or sadness.
Writers and directors Pete Docter (Monsters Inc. & Up) and Ronaldo Del Carmen have a fascinating film and character study on their hands. Most everyone will find something to relate to in this film because it speaks to universal feelings. We all experience grief in different ways, but it’s going through all those stages of emotions which lead us to overcoming it. When we look back on how we handled certain situations, we often laugh at how emotional we got because we couldn’t translate how we really felt about something. This film is a fictitious, but nonetheless important, look at how our brains work and how we handle grief, in its many forms, at different stages in life. Parents truly want what’s best for their children and act as strong as they can, but they feel all sorts of emotions too and handling each situation perfect can be hard. This is communicated both hysterically and directly with a look at the emotions which inhabit Riley’s parents.
Family and emotions are certainly the focus of this film, subtly reminding the audience to cherish what they have and to go out and make our bonds stronger. The concept of memory banks and having every memory stored, be them good or bad, is a brilliant way to get their message across. We hold on to core memories, which define who we are as individuals and explain how we act. Each person will think back to those specific memories and start to reevaluate who we think we are. From those core memories stem the good and bad memories associated with them, because we’re all flawed individuals. Not every bad event in our lives has to be looked on as that bad, because we always take something away from each bad experience. Those experience’s don’t define us, but they help define who we are now and who we could become. It’s impossible not to think about yourself and the one’s you love all throughout the film and this is a very good thing. We’re all Riley and her parents, all trying to be our best for each other.
Inside Out has clearly struck a chord with me, causing me to think of every high and low in my life. Had I handled things better at the time, I might not be here reviewing excellent movies, something that I couldn’t live without now. I looked back at how silly I used to be with how I handled my emotions and I realized that most the sad and emotional times in my life only brought me closer to the people I really care about. Inside Out expertly depicts this and the sensation of moving on for the better in heartbreaking, heartwarming, beautiful sequences which stay with you long after the film. On top of all you feel, you’re watching a stunning animated film with impressive characters and lasting impression. It’s not just a great movie, but it’s a great and necessary experience.
Inside Out Trailer