REVIEW: INSIDE OUT Will Turn Your Emotions Inside Out
Pixar has a long history of making films that make me cry. And I know I’m not alone in this feeling. TOY STORY 2, MONSTERS INC., and UP all made me weep with abandon in that safe space of a darkened theater in the company of complete strangers and their kids. Director Pete Docter’s latest resonant feature, INSIDE OUT, is no different. To use the parlance of our times (that “the kids” are using), it made me feel all the feels. So bring a Costco-sized box of Kleenex, ready yourself for all of the heartswells, and say goodbye to some big fat crocodile tears, because you’ll be radiating for days after catching this masterpiece.
Life has been easy for eleven-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). Growing up in Minnesota has afforded her great times with her Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Kyle MacLachlan), goofing off, playing hockey and hanging out with her best friend. At the forefront of her development are five emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader). They’ve helped Riley store core memories which power her personality islands (hockey, goofball, family, etc.). However, Riley’s happy life begins to crumble when her parents uproot her to gray, gloomy San Francisco. This is like a death sentence, and precisely where her emotions get out of whack. The gang inside this young girl’s head is then put to the test trying to put her back in balance.
Familiar themes of Pixar stories past are woven through the fabric of this ingeniously innovative film. As always, world building is key, and the filmmakers have created an infinitely astounding structure inside the brain filled with color, wonder and imagination. Michael Giacchino’s score really ties together the compassionate philosophy, insightful themes, and beautiful visuals in a non-obtrusive manner. Docter, Josh Cooley (who also voices Jangles, the clown in Riley’s subconscious) and Meg LeFauve’s screenplay nails the feeling of childhood innocence departing, and gifts kids and their parents with a manual of how to adjust to their newfound melancholy and complex feelings. This is a revolutionary feature, not just in terms of what Pixar’s team has done with animation techniques (like character design and Sadness’ hair movement), and also not just in terms of how they’ve envisioned the mind looks and sounds (specifically sound designer Ren Klyce’s work in the abstract tunnel), but really in terms of how will affect the modern parent-child dynamic. It’ll impact future generations to come. Full disclosure: I’m not a parent, and even I was moved thinking about this film’s legacy (I say as I type with tears in my eyes). Adults will get a whip-kick of nostalgia. This precarious time is something we’ve all been through before and will see reflected in our kids’ development. Plus, Bing Bong (voiced impeccably by Richard Kind) is the film’s MVP, with his dolphin noises, tears made of candy, and other reasons I can’t disclose because I don’t want to spoil it.
Despite sensing ahead of time the journey Joy was going to take, INSIDE OUT is unpredictable, entertaining, and energetic. Any heartbreak is softened by gobs of humor (irreverent and otherwise), making this the perfect feature for audiences of all ages. Not only will this open up the conversation about how your mind functions, but it will open up how animated films are conceived and constructed. Stay through the end credits – not just to let your tear-stained shirt dry, but to see the outtakes.
5 out of 5
INSIDE OUT opens on June 19.
About Courtney Howard
Born and raised in Northern California, Courtney has had a love of Hollywood ever since seeing her first film in theaters at age 6 (E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL). In 8th grade she was voted most likely to work with the Hollywood elite, and was the only girl in her high school to have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Majoring in film at BIOLA University taught her more about the movie making craft and film theory. She also possesses a wealth of useless knowledge of celebrities’ careers and personal lives, which she put to good use during tryouts for the VH1 game show THE WORLD SERIES OF POP CULTURE. Courtney now resides in Southern California with her screenwriter husband and perfect little dachshund.
Also, make sure to read: