Inside Out simplifies without losing sight of the complexity in human feelings. It builds off of five major emotions and a fairly conventional human story to produce a gorgeous and layered inner world, and its impressive world-building and lack of unneeded exposition allow it to shine. Moments that seem like throwaways are used both to make you laugh and to flesh out the characters, and the creative team seems to have a firm grasp on what’s needed for infectious fun to work in tandem with serious topics. The movie takes Riley’s journey seriously, understanding that profound stories can be told about kids with real, human emotions, stories that aren’t boxed in by action or romance or binary statements that oversimplify a child’s struggles.
Pete Docter and co. are, first and foremost, telling a deeply human story here, so they aren’t interested in defining protagonists and antagonists. Each emotion has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and the movie is all about how these characters–whether it be the emotions or the people–respond to whatever life may bring. The emotions shape the actions and the actions shape the emotions, and the movie uses this idea to tell Riley’s story with regards to Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. And a big part of the movie’s success is due to the voice actors, led by Amy Poehler channeling Leslie Knope as Joy and featuring Richard Kind lending a wonderful voice to Bing Bong’s poignant story.
There’s an adventurous aspect to that story that forms the main plot of the movie, but there’s also a large supply of emotion driving it. As Riley’s story progresses, certain aspects of her personality fall apart and are left behind, and that’s just a simple fact that comes with growing up. Joy and sadness are natural and necessary when you’re developing empathy and maturing, and the gold memory balls that represent joy are inevitably going to be tinged with the blue of sadness. And in the end, what matters is not how many there are of each color, but rather how well the two work together to create a human being.
-One of the most important ideas to come out of this is the difference between sadness and depression. The movie understands that idea, portraying the latter as more of a lack of feeling rather than simply sadness on a higher level. There’s also a nice repression metaphor when Joy draws a circle and tells Sadness to stand inside it.
-The kids at my showing laughed the most during the previews, but were fairly silent throughout the entire movie. This ended up being geared toward adults and older kids more so than to younger kids.
-I love the inclusion of hockey here, as it has been scientifically proven to be the best sport in the world.
-I really liked the “Lava” short beforehand.
-The way the consoles develop and compare with each other is really well done. Riley’s console becomes larger throughout the movie, and at the end, instead of one emotion controlling at a time, they now all have room to work together.
-My favorite joke: the facts and opinions one. Also, the abstract sequence is pretty awesome.
– “Forget it, Jake. It’s Cloud Town.”
-The look at the emotions of the dad and mom is pretty damn hilarious, but it also serves as a nice contrast to Riley’s emotions. The dad is mainly run by Anger and the mom by Sadness, but their emotions are still more controlled and organized, more mature.
-Bing Bong is awesome. The scene between him and Joy in the Memory Dump is absolutely heartbreaking, and him fading away really hit me hard. What a character. “Take her to the moon for me.”
-The scenes over the credits are pure gold. “GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL GIRL!”
Photo credit: Inside Out, Disney Pixar Studios