Inside Out Review: Little voices with big things to say

Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Mindy Kaling

Whilst audiences may already be familiar with the cute characters (or emotions) of Inside Out (as they have appeared in several TV advert campaigns prior to the film’s release), the plot of the latest Disney Pixar film was deliberately not given away too much, meaning most people are going into it not really knowing what to expect.

Based on the previous Pixar films Peter Docter has been involved in, we have some idea of what kind of story this film is going to tell. Docter was the mind behind the story of Wall-E, and co-director of the tear-jerker Up. It is perhaps fitting then that Docter is the man behind the emotions of Inside Out.

I expected good things based on the director’s previous offerings and, it’s Disney Pixar! They’ve rarely let me down before (Cars 2, you know what you did!), and the teaser trailers showed a lot of promise. This film didn’t just deliver and meet my prior expectations, but it sent me on an emotional rollercoaster that I really didn’t expect.

The Overview

Inside Out focuses on the life of an 11 year old girl named Riley, and the full range of emotions she experiences when she has to move from her home in Minnesota, to San Francisco with her family. We also get to meet her emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). As a newborn baby, the first emotion she experiences is Joy, but as she grows she learns to embrace a whole range of emotions and her personality begins to form. Joy keeps all the other emotions in check, but as Riley grows up, it becomes more of a struggle for Joy to overcome the other emotions, particularly Sadness.

The Good

Where to start! The opening scenes in which we see Riley grow up and experience all of the emotions is beautifully executed. In terms of how well it shows the passing of time, growth and dealing with all the emotions and experiences life throws at us, I would put it up there with the opening sequence of Up (although it is not quite as heart-wrenching).

I really enjoyed the clever twists on well known phrases such as “train of thought” and “losing your marbles”, so simple yet so brilliantly done. The scene used in the trailer in which we see the voices inside Riley’s parents’ heads is also fantastic and raised more laughs from the parents than the kids as it was very easy to relate to.

Disney Pixar films are known for their positive messages, and Inside Out has them in abundance. It shows how our emotions develop and form over time, how experiences and memories shape us and our personalities, and most importantly that sometimes it is okay to feel sad. If you’re taking kids to see this film, then be prepared for a lot of questions afterwards, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In terms of explaining to kids about their emotions and feelings, I don’t think there could be another film that does this better.

The Bad

It’s pretty common these days that a “kids” film has plenty of jokes for the adults and enough little things in it to make the cinema experience tolerable, however Inside Out is more of an adult film with some jokes for the kids. Older children would be fine, but I think very young children might struggle. One scene in particular involving a clown was very frightening for young children – the screening I attended had lots of screaming kids at this point!

Some of the themes are quite complex, and whilst there is some silliness and jokes that the kids will enjoy, they may not understand what is happening or why. It’s overall tone is reflective and quite different from some of the more light-hearted Pixar offerings, so it is better to expect that instead of a “laugh-a-minute” film.

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. Whilst this movie was indeed an emotional rollercoaster, I have anything but mixed feelings for it. It is simply brilliant – it will make you laugh, it will almost certainly make you cry and it might scare you a little bit too (particularly if you have a phobia of clowns like me!) – the only emotions it didn’t make me feel were Anger and Disgust! I guess they must’ve been taking the day off. This film is a refreshing change from most “kids” films these days, and the most thought-provoking Disney Pixar film since Wall-E (more on this coming soon!) – Inside Out is a must-see.

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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