It’s become a commonly held view that Pixar have been in a bit of a slump. Brave and Monsters University were hardly bad films, but they missed that bit of magic that has always made Pixar so special. While Cars 2 sadly goes down as one of their first genuine flops. However, with the release of Inside Out Pixar are proving that rumours of their demise were greatly exaggerated.
Set within the head of an eleven year old girl, Riley. Inside Out depicts the inner working of her brain by showing the five emotions that make it up. Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and most importantly, at least in this young girls life, Joy (Amy Poehler). In Riley’s short life, Joy has been the overriding emotion, shown by looking at her memories which are represented by marbles which shine the colour of the emotion they represent. This begins to change though, when her family leave their idyllic life behind in order to move to San Fransisco and for the first time in Riley’s life, Sadness takes centre stage.
This is depicted by Joy and Sadness getting lost within the depths of Riley mind, while on the outside she falls into what is actually very close to a depression. As they try to make their way back to the control tower, Joy and Sadness witness exactly what is going on in the confines of this young girls head and it is here where Pixar do most of their magic. The various aspects of her head all have their own unique touch and it leads to some moments that you will want to pause when you finally get the DVD, in order to drink in every little detail of the backgrounds. Whether it’s the fun of Imagination Land or the surreal Dali esque nature of abstract thought, Pixar have pushed all their creativity and imagination into making this place fascinating.
However, what will make this film the success it is, is that it works on two completely different levels. On one hand it is a colourful animated adventure, as Joy and Sadness fight to get back home. On the other hand, it is a fascinating look at how emotions work. Pixar are studying the importance of sadness and that’s not something you see often in films meant mainly for children. When it dives into other people’s heads you see that each person is controlled by a different emotion and it’s amazing how subtly Pixar get across the differences between people. It’s rising above appealing to an adult audience by just making a couple of rude jokes that go above the heads of the children, but instead tells a completely different tale to the adults.
Most importantly though, in among all this depth, Inside Out is also wonderfully good fun. The characters are beautifully animated, as you would expect. Even the relentlessly positive Joy, who could have so easily been annoying, is sympathetic and fun. While Sadness adds a wonderfully dark and dry humour to proceedings. In classic Pixar fashion there are times you are going to cry, even the glimpses of young Riley’s happy life may bring a tear to the eye, but it’s all wonderfully balanced. Moments of sadness sliding into moments of excitement and joy. An idea that actually reflects the themes of the film.
Pixar are still the very best when it comes to making movies like this. They proved it time after time with the Toy Story film and this is them doing it all over again. In fact, you could imagine watching Riley taking a similar journey to Andy, puberty is just around the corner. However, focusing on the present, Inside Out is the best they have been in years and whether you are young or old it is something that you need to see.