Generally speaking, Pixar movies are associated with quality. There have been a few relative misfires over the last handful of years like “Cars 2”, “Brave”, perhaps “The Good Dinosaur”. We shall see where “Inside Out” ranks.
Riley is a young girl growing up in Minnesota. Her five basic emotions, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger are personified in her mind. These emotions also help to control the flow of memories into short and long-term, dictate dreams and other conscious aspects of her personality.
Everything gets thrown out of whack when the family moves to San Francisco. This monumental change, missing friends, starting at a new school, etc, triggers massive emotional challenges that threaten the very structure of her mind. Contributing to this, Joy and Sadness struggles jostle Riley’s core memories, creating a massive disturbance. These memories are launched out into the jumble of long-term memories. Realizing that these core memories make up Riley’s personality, Joy and Sadness venture out of the central hub and wander through the expanse of long-term memories to find these core memories so they can be returned to where they belong and their host can get back to normal.
For quite a long time, the viewer might be wondering when the actual plot will start and how it will manifest itself. The ‘real-life’ segments understandably drive the emotions but for quite awhile, the five emotions are simply reacting to their external stimulation and doing their jobs while dealing with each other. This is fine to start, but there is a moment that you have to wonder when things will kick in. Thankfully, that moment does indeed come in the form of an unexpected journey.
More than the adventure itself unfolding any differently than you would expect, this sets itself apart by having the most clever concepts ever. Sure, films and stories have tinkered with the idea of being inside a characters’ mind, but nothing has come close to this level of detail. Visualizing the storage of memories and thoughts in a kind of warehouse is mind-boggling. The fact that dreams are treated like literal movies inside the mind was a nice touch.
The other vital component that Pixar, at its best, is able to incorporate again here is emotion. It’s easy to not only sympathize with Riley, but when has a movie ever been able to make us mourn the physical manifestation of a memory? There isn’t a generic villain shoehorned in here outside of the very nature of time, outside stimuli and a few obstacles between our heroes and the end goal. The crumbling of the mind’s infrastructure which is based on certain foundations most humans proves to be the most disruptive events.
All of the emotions are valid though Sadness’ insistence on simply creating problems is frustrating. Now doubt these emotions are less rational in a young mind than in a full-formed one, so that is a possible explanation. It is interesting to see inside the adults’ minds as all five emotions seem to be working together more harmoniously than with Riley. I guess that’s all a part of growing up.
Special features include: a short featurette called ‘Lava’. Nothing special on this rental edition.
“Inside Out” upholds the usually very high standard set forth by Pixar. This is achieved by giving us a story that explores something so simple on the surface, but is infinitely complex.
Add an extra half star to this.
Rated PG 94 minutes 2015