Tweetable Takeaway: Inside Out is a ride of emotions that provides an emotional, fun, and briskly paced movie for all ages. Tweet
By: Wil Loper, Contributor
Inside Out works spectacularly as not only a movie that kids will enjoy, but adults as well. And that is the best kind of kids’ movie there is: children can enjoy the movie as is now, but as they grow older the movie will continue to cement itself in their hearts. There is no disappointment more crushing than realizing a movie you enjoyed immensely in your youth is actually an awful addition to the world of cinema. Luckily for all of us, Pixar’s Inside Out refuses to fall into that category.
Inside Out tells the story of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and the five emotions in her head. When Riley is born, it’s just her and Joy (Amy Poehler), a bright, glowing yellow sprite of a character who, with the push of a single button, causes infant Riley to laugh. What a wonderful world we’d all live in if things continued on this course. We all know we humans are far messier than that, and it’s not long before Sadness (Phyllis Smith) pops into the picture to start pushing that button and baby Riley follows suit by crying. Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) all join the party, and the control panel gets even larger and more complex.
As Riley ages, memories are created, taking the form of orbs colored depending on the emotion that was ruling at the time. By and large, happy memories dominate Riley’s mind collection. Additionally and most importantly, Riley has several core memories that make up the type of person she is. These include being a goofball, enjoying hockey, and loving her family. The day-to-day operations mostly involve Joy dominating the switchboard and keeping Riley at her happiest.
Other emotions may take their turn influencing Riley’s attitude, but Joy is always there to turn things positive. It’s one of countless incredibly clever touches in Inside Out. Joy’s incessant need to be at the controls doubles as an explanation for those people (or ourselves) in our lives who are, without fail, cheerful optimists. After walking out of this movie, it’s hard to not start seeing people in our lives and imagining little Amy Poehler Joy characters running their mind, or Sadnesses or Angers. It’s a concept deceptively simple but undeniably powerful.
Once Riley’s dad relocates his whole family to San Francisco for his job, Joy finds her hands full trying to keep Riley happy. Sadness, in particular, seems to be insistent on messing everything up. Every time Sadness touches the controls, things take a turn for the blue. And when Sadness touches a core memory, the orb turns permanently sad. Trying to fix the situation, both Joy and Sadness get sucked up out of headquarters and dropped off in long-term memory. The rest of the movie has the two attempting to get back to the control room, whilst Fear, Disgust, and Anger desperately try to keep things under control without Joy to guide them and keep Riley happy. Worse, without the core memories in their proper place, aspects of Riley’s personality crumble away.
The first to go: Goofball. Again, a simple plot development in the movie parallels brilliantly when audience members look inwardly. How many of us, as we grow older, lose the carefree, uninhibited behavior of being a goofy kid? Or find that an activity once effortless we can’t seem to recreate, and let slip away? It’s heartbreaking to see these changes, and doubles as a way to increase the tension in the movie. This isn’t a fun jaunt through Riley’s mind, this is a race to save Riley herself, the components that make up who she is. The movie keeps a brisk pace throughout, continuously showing the ramifications of Joy and Sadness’s absence. One wouldn’t think a movie about anthropomorphized emotions could be as edge-of-your-seat as this, but Pixar accomplishes it.
Perhaps Inside Out’s greatest achievement comes in the message it imparts. And that’s that the inside of our heads are sometimes messy, but that’s okay. There’s no right answer. There’s no rule to live by, that we should always be happy, or only use one emotion in any situation. That sometimes, it’s okay to be sad. Too often we think we should be acting in a certain way, because that’s what we see others do, or how we’ve been taught, or what’s expected of us.
Inside Out teaches children and anyone else watching, in a refreshingly non-preachy manner, that that’s not necessarily true. What’s important is finding out why we’re feeling the way we do. And as Riley’s control panel continues to grow as she gets older, and more buttons are added and emotions more complex, it all rings true and it’s not something we should be so worried about. There are times Inside Out doesn’t go as deep as it might, but that’s okay. Any deeper and the movie wouldn’t be as kid friendly. As it stands, Inside Out is the rare movie every age will find immense enjoyment from.
I give Inside Out 4.5 memory orbs out of 5
Score: 4.5 out of 5