5 out of 5 stars (Near Perfection)
Pixar is one of, if not the best, animation studios in the world. Nearly all of their 15 films are considered classics, each touching us in a way we never thought animated movies could. I will always love Pixar films because of their ability to make me laugh, cry, and think about my life while still being enormously entertained.
While their past few films (Brave, Cars 2, and Monsters University) were decent, they lacked gripping narratives and emotional conviction of the previous Pixar entries (Up and the unbeatable Toy Story 3). I was worried that Pixar might have lost its way a bit, as their films were becoming predictable and more childish. Thankfully, Inside Out fixes that problem and is a clear declaration from the company that the magic is back. Inside Out is a fun, funny, and surprisingly emotional film that the entire family can enjoy. It is in the running for the best film of 2015, and is presently my favorite movie of all time.
The movie follows the emotions inside 11-year-old Riley (Voiced well by Kaitlyn Dias). Those emotions are Joy (Voiced by the always energetic Amy Poehler of TV’s Parks and Rec.), Sadness (Voiced by the perfectly depressed-sounding Phyllis Smith of TV’s The Office), Anger (Voiced by stand-up comedian Lewis Black), Disgust (Voiced by the amazingly on-key Mindy Kailing, also from The Office), and Fear (Voiced by the manic Bill Hader). They control how Riley reacts to and remembers events in her life, with Joy being the unspoken leader. However, things get complicated when Joy and Sadness are ejected from HQ, leaving the other emotions to control Riley until they can get back. Along the way, the two encounter Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong (A miscast Richard Kind) who helps them in their quest. The adventure will leave everyone changed, both inside and out.
I was very excited for this movie. One element of Pixar I love is the originality of their stories, and this one has it in bulk. The story is unpredictable for the most part, so it kept me on the edge of my seat. To be fair, you know what the endgame is, but the road the film takes to get there is what makes it great.
The animation is absolutely gorgeous. The human world looks as real as possible, with designs of Skype, Internet, and even cell phones looking almost exactly as they do here. The inside of Riley’s head is also bright and colorful, making for a feel-good experience.
The voice acting is also amazing. I love Amy Poehler, and I cannot hear anyone else playing Joy. Her naturally bubbly voice matches perfectly with the character, making for the first great female protagonist in the Pixarverse. All but one of the voice actors are perfectly cast, making for a very funny flick.
The film is also surprisingly emotional and deep for a movie marketed to children. I love that, as the film doesn’t talk down to or sugarcoat things for its audience. I am a 20 year old college junior, and I cried at the end of this animated film. That is true power, and it’s a power Pixar wields well. The film will make you think about things you never considered about your emotions and memories. The ideas are so simple, yet so complex at the same time. Not all kids will get them, but for those who do, the film will serve as a reminder all your emotions are important, and that expressing them is part of life even when we wish we didn’t have them.
My only issue with this film is with Bing Bong. I never had an imaginary friend, choosing instead to make real ones and play with action figures. Because of this, my heartstrings weren’t pulled when the character was introduced. He is a good and necessary character, but his motivation was not relatable to me personally. That being said, I could have liked the character if another voice actor was chosen. Kind does very well in the dramatic scenes, but drags the movie down a bit overall. Again, he is necessary for the plot, but would have been better to me if he were voiced by someone else.
Inside Out is a perfect family movie. In a summer full of superheroes and raunchy comedies, it was nice to be able to sit down and enjoy a film with my mom and sister that didn’t have swearing and sex jokes every ten minutes. I love Pixar for its ability to tell relatively simple stories that pack in grown-up, emotional themes while still being entertaining. See this film, and be touched Inside and Out.
Rated PG for Mild Thematic Elements and Some Action