Inside Out  (2015)

Pixar is known for movies that delight kids, are enjoyable for adults, and sometimes make people of all ages cry. I'm not too proud to admit the first ten minutes or so of "Up" had me weeping like Mike Schmidt, and I had heard from various sources that "Inside Out" would have the same impact. I felt a few emotional pangs, but nothing got the tears flowing.

There is a famous image on the internet summing up Pixar's fame:

pixar what if

"Inside Out" was pretty much what you could expect from Pixar. They have a formula, and it's been solid from day one, so they have no need to make any changes. If it ain't broke, Pixar won't fix it.

The movie begins with the birth of a girl, Riley. Immediately introduced is Riley's first emotion, Joy. Quickly following is Sadness, eventually joined by Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Every reaction in Riley's life is governed by one of those five. Sensory input enters the body, the five emotions decide how to react, then they control her body to laugh or cry or scream or throw a fit. It's a beautifully simplistic outlook on real life: all of our reactions boiled down to a basic set of feelings. The feelings collect memories, and place them in different storage areas of Riley's brain, creating short-term memories, moving them into long-term, keeping some as "core memories". Occasionally the long-term memories get moved to the memory dump, to be lost forever.

Each of the emotions are essentially bound to express themselves in one way. Fear can't be brave, Anger can't be sweet, Sadness can't laugh. The conflict between Joy and Sadness is the key to the entire plot. When Riley's family moves across the country, Sadness starts to influence more of the memories than Joy. Joy does her best to keep Sadness away, but eventually realizes there needs to be a balance.

I know that laying this all out sounds either simplistically cute or needlessly complex. It sort of walks that line, where you tell yourself there are more emotions than just those five, but when you boil it down, most things can actually be traced to one of them. The complexity of storing memories, moving certain ones to certain areas, maintaining files like a computer, those parts didn't always work for me.

As always with Pixar, the voice-work and acting are fantastic. They have an amazing knack for picking the right actor for the part. Amy Poehler nails Joy, Phyllis Smith sounds just like Sadness should sound, Bill Hader is wonderfully frantic as Fear, and could anyone other than Lewis Black really have voiced Anger? My only gripe was Mindy Kaling as Disgust; I think anyone could have brought the same qualities to the character as she did.

My heartstrings were tugged a few times, watching Riley deal with being the new kid in school, fighting with her parents, missing old friends...but it still never hit me quite as hard as I was warned. Pixar is still an amazing studio, and "Inside Out" continues their run of success.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Inside Out" gets a 6 out of 10.


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