Inside Out (2015)
In recent years I’ve not really been fussed by Pixar’s output, which like most of Hollywood has become sequels, no originality, turning instead to less risk-averse franchise friendly titles for reboots and remakes or whatever they are supposed to be. The last Pixar films I went out of my way to watch at the cinema was Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010). Admittedly the last was a sequel but I have a childhood connection like many of my generation, which still resonates to this day. That’s one franchise which has yet to fall foul to failing at the box-office. I wish more recently that I could catch Inside Out (2015) which I initially read had an existential plot of emotions as the main characters inside the mind of a 12 year old girl on the cusp of puberty. Probably the right age to tell this story. I know Mark Kermode has been praising this film recently, even naming it his top film of last year, which says something for the critic who is hard to please. Animation is enjoying a good time on the big-screen at the moment. The medium has left the restriction of just being for kids, audiences of all ages can enjoy animation now.
Moving on and back to Inside Out I would have let me pass me by if not for the plot which is really aimed at the family audience, yet like all of Pixar’s gems they work on two levels, one for the kids, another for the adults. Years ago when I used to watch Toy Story (1995) I didn’t get some of the jokes, they went right over me. Future viewings as I grew up they became a richer experience along with a nice dollop of nostalgia to boot. Now my feet are firmly in the adult world I can see the film on both levels and can enjoy all the jokes and the subtleties of this complex world that director Pete Docter has constructed for us. Much like the wonderment we found with Monsters Inc (2001) when the screams of children generated power for Monsters. All made possible by collecting noise in a canister and somehow converted to electricity. Moving back again to last year (I think I’ll be doing a lot of side-tracking) we have a more complex world; the human mind, that mainly of a young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) whose being uprooted from all she knows as she moves from Minnesota to San-Francisco. A massive change for her and her parents who are making the adjustment to a new life on the West-coast.
Not that we spend as much time with Riley the girl as we do her emotions which are, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) who are based in the control centre that is Riley’s mind, with a view-finder that are her eyes. All fighting around a control station to determine her emotions. Lead by Joy who at first is overbearing at the beginning of the film. I soon accept that she is the leader, the one who we want to be, happy and why not? It’s better than being the other emotions in high amounts. Each of these emotions are fully rounded characters that really come into their own and have their moments.
Of course moving house for anyone it’s a stressful time, even more so for child which we see in a few situations, a bit cliché but gets the point across. Riley is having a hard time adjusting and we can all relate to that. It’s how we deal with it that matters which we have not really seen before. I remember a book about how the human body worked, using the analogy of millions of little men carrying out the jobs to make it easy for a child to understand. OK Inside Out is not simplifying the process of emotions, memory and other light psychologically subjects. We see little creatures hoovering up un-used memories in the long-term memory. Even a trip to the subconscious where we find all those fears and unwanted memories that we try to keep locked away, allowing us to lead a happy life.
When the Riley’s core memories (five glowing yellow orbs) are at risk it’s up to Joy and Sadness to save the day, after they’re taken away from headquarters. There is friction between the two emotions who are true to their emotions as they try to find away back to headquarters which are left with Anger, Disgust and Fear have to look after Riley. Without the core memories are the foundation of her personality she is lost in the world, eventually becoming numb to surrounds. Even having her first teenage tantrum which leads to some interesting cross emotions between parents as we look at their emotions, the same but different for each of them. This is where we see some of the best jokes for the adults that can work for the kids.
So down in the long-term memory, and surrounding areas of Riley’s mind Joy and Sadness are having to work together. Something which we saw earlier was something they didn’t do. The two emotions are growing up, learning they need each other. Memories as happy as they were for the child, helping form her personality, which we all know can be a very fickle thing at times in our lives as we enter different times. We see in Riley practically start over emotionally as she is pusher further than she has ever experienced, a learning curve maybe or to the more experience – life. For a child it can be more frightening as they are at times still finding their way. We all have our moments that push us, experience something that pushes our emotions, no memories to draw on to help us through, reacting irrationally as we fight or fly to see it through.
Riley is growing up which we all understand and can easily relate, which makes this a really accessible film. Instead of seeing neurons and all the boring science that can get in the way of entertainment and imagination we have this beautifully crafted world. Ironically in a computer, a complex series of circuitry and hardware that has allowed this wonderfully interior world to be created. You can see that Pixar are still pushing themselves to be more realistic even in the cartoon world, the characters are more textured and engaging to watch. It’s visual treat that again reminds me of Monsters Inc where every single hair was animated, there is so much detail in Inside Out, as he makes the impossible more possible. You could say they have dumbed down the inner workings of the mind, yet to many its a hard concept to crack, and delivered with a sense of fun and wonder which is something Pixar when they are at the best excel in, which they have here.