“Congratulations San Francisco, you've ruined Pizza! First the Hawaiians, and now YOU!”
Pixar has always raised the standards for animated films despite their latest weaker entries (Monster University and Cars 2), and fortunately Inside Out lives up to those expectations adding another emotional and moving entry to their long list of successes. Inside Out is inventive and imaginative in the way it portrays the emotional roller coaster that children go through growing up. In Inside Out the main character has to face moving to a new city and experiencing its new surrounding, and director Pete Docter manages to tell that story through the complexities of human emotions which we can all identify with. I did see many young kids get a bit bored and distracted by the emotional buildup of the story, but older kids and adults enjoyed the ride and got emotionally invested with the story (it got a bit dusty in the eye department). Younger kids might love louder films like Home which really don’t do anything inventive other than recycle simple gags, but thankfully Pixar goes beyond the easy appeal of those movies and makes intelligent and emotionally engaging animated films that will stick with you. For instance, in Inside Out the different emotions like Anger, Joy, Fear, Sadness, and Disgust are characters that Docter doesn’t simply introduce in a thoughtless or general manner to move the story along, instead he takes his time to create a carefully structured brain where these emotions try to guide the twelve year old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias). Docter has taken his time to introduce this world where the brain isn’t simply controlled by emotions, but there are other psychological elements involved such as memories, subconsciousness, and dreams. A lot of thought was put into the story and that is something rarely seen nowadays in animated films.
Riley is a twelve year old girl who has recently moved to a new city with her parents (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane) after her father decides to start a new job in San Francisco. Leaving her friends and love for hockey behind in Minnesota she must learn to adapt to this new place. Her emotions guide her from within the headquarters of her mind, as Joy (Amy Poehler) is doing her best to keep things under control, but Sadness (Phyllis Smith) seems to get the best of her after a series of events seem to conspire against Riley. We are soon introduced to the other emotions in the control room: Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mandy Kaling) who all try to help guide her through the day and forge lasting memories that will shape her. However things take an unexpected turn when both Joy and Sadness get lost somewhere in the deep corridors of Riley’s brain and can’t seem to find their way back to the control room.
To be honest there were some moments that felt a bit slow and tedious while I didn’t find some of the jokes actually funny. However the film has several strong moments that managed to bring me back to the story and by the time we were approaching the final act of the film I was emotionally invested in it. The dream sequence was hilarious and well worth the price of admission alone, but I also enjoyed the time Docter took to tell the story and imagine this world from inside the mind of a twelve year old from a psychological standpoint. It’s an inventive movie that doesn’t forget about the adventure. I wouldn’t rank this as high as some of my favorite work from Pixar (Up, Ratatouille, and Toy Story 3), but it is a huge improvement from the latest entries. It surprisingly doesn’t settle for an easy ending either and I was pleased with the resolution. The final act of the movie is perhaps one of the reasons why I’ll give Inside Out a higher rating despite not being blown away during most of the film. It will probably grow on me with a rewatch. It is so rare that I haven't even mentioned how great the animation looks since there is so much to say about the engaging and emotional story.