A Brief Review of Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’

My brief review of Pixar’s INSIDE OUT
– by Travis Alden, Vogue Theatre Manager

I must preface this by saying that I am a sucker for Pixar. From the first short film I saw of theirs – 1997’s ‘Geri’s Game’ to ‘Toy Story’ to ‘Finding Nemo’ to ‘WALL-E’ and everything in between – their films are always very good, very entertaining and stand the test of time (so far).
A few have taken headier themes of humanity, loyalty, family and loss and have transcended the generic classification of “cartoon”. ‘Inside Out’ does just that, and in my opinion is Pixar’s best movie yet. And that’s saying a lot.

I have to admit that this film has changed the way that I think about personality, memory and what makes us ‘us’.

Visually, the animation is dazzling. I cannot fathom the creativity that the filmmakers must possess in order to render the world that they have created in ‘Inside Out’. The way that the inner mind of Riley – an 11-year-old girl who just moved to a new city and a new school – is fleshed out in imaginative ways that simultaneously intrigue and make perfect sense is amazing.

Younger kids will love the movie simply for the spectacular visuals, the fun action and some of the simpler jokes. Tweens and teens will ‘get’ many more of the references and hopefully will see some of themselves in Riley and be able to reflect on their own emotions and feelings.
For parents like me (and I readily admit that I have two young daughters so ‘Inside Out’ really hit home) there are scenes that may bring you to tears – in unexpected ways.

Amidst the adventure that Riley’s personified emotions have inside her head, the film evokes a kind of heartfelt nostalgia for the life-defining moments and experiences that make everyone unique. Not only that, but to envision this template on our children – what they have experienced and felt that makes them who they are (at least at this point in their lives) – is a powerful movie-going experience. Certainly not one that I was expecting.

Riley’s five emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) – are fascinating to watch as characters because each of them is naive in their own ways. In one scene, Fear, Anger and Disgust all try their best to make Riley feel happy. It’s hilarious.

The film’s various incarnations of how our minds and memories work – from why we forget phone numbers and names of presidents to why we can’t get TV commercial jingles from a decade ago out of our heads – is pure genius.

There’s a lot to love about ‘Inside Out’, but perhaps what it does best is give us reason and opportunity to reflect on our own selves, our memories and what has formed us into who we are as individuals. When a “cartoon” can do that, it’s nothing short of incredible.

Bravo, Pixar.