Do Yourselves a Favor
An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis
Inside Out presents an interesting dilemma. In a rare twist on the PG rating, it is a movie that will probably fly right over the heads of young children – not because there is anything they should not see or hear, but because it is a very sophisticated concept that may well fly right over their heads. This is one that teenagers and adults will remember.
Peter Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have co-directed and co-written a marvelously innovative look at the inner self of an 11-year-old girl. Pixar’s animators deliver the concept beautifully with the characters speaking in the voices of skilled live actors, all recognizable names.
Riley (Kaitlin Dias) loves her life in Minnesota where she has loving parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) and the fun of being a good ice hockey player among close friends. When they move to San Francisco for her father’s new job, life for the eleven year old disintegrates. It’s at this point that the movie focuses on Riley’s inner life, on everything she cannot say out loud to anyone at all about her new unhappiness.
In an inspired move, the writers create animated characters to represent the cauldron of emotions swirling in Riley’s mind. Joy (Amy Poehler) is the positive force trying to keep Riley on track; Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is the unavoidable reaction to the loss of her old life. Fear (Bill Hader) is the emotion that hangs over each new experience; Anger (Lewis Black) surfaces whenever nothing improves; Disgust (Mindy Kaling) comes round whenever all hope seems lost.
Each of these emotions arrives in the form of an appealing animated figure. It is that combination that may be entrancing for adults but simply too complicated for anyone younger than a teenager. “Headquarters” lies in Riley’s brain where all these emotions collide in her inner life. Born of confusions that fill a child’s mind, these are the feelings rarely mentioned to parents.
After the fateful move west, Sadness’s role increases while Fear, Anger, and Disgust pop up with disturbing regularity. Joy tries desperately to return to headquarters in order to overcome the negativity brought on by the misery of Riley’s new life and the loss of her old one. As the age of twelve approaches for Riley, Joy gets closer to headquarters.
Unless I’m way off base, I’d keep a DVD on hand for the young ones later on and recommend it now for adults and teenagers. Despite all its animated confusion, this is a subtle metaphor for our own inner adult complexity. You may well be surprised at how often you find yourself sorting through your own feelings long after you’ve seen Inside Out. That alone is worth the trip.
When the credits roll, notice the many dozens of specialists involved in bringing this unusual concept to the screen. With a special salute to Mssrs Del Carmen and Docter, this is Pixar/Disney again and this time they’ve handed the grownups a gift.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Inside Out
Distributor : Pixar (Disney)
Running Time : 1:34
Word Count : 497
Rating : PG