Being a 25-year-old male… I might have been a little too excited to see Pixar’s Inside Out? But I submit the fact that I was practically raised on Disney/Pixar films so not only did this movie pique my interest because of an interesting concept and an exceptional cast, but it brought back all the feels from my childhood. Why would I not be excited to see this film? I think you’re weird if you weren’t! So there…
Riley, a happy go-lucky 11-year-old girl, has everything she wants in life, great friends a happy family a great hockey team and more. Her life is turned upside-down, however, when her family moves from her small Minnesota-town to San Francisco for work reasons. This is a tough time for any 11-year-old– losing so much so quickly and having to adjust to, essentially, a new world. Her emotions, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust– literal being inside of her head that make Riley…well.. Riley attempt to help her through the tough time– with Joy being the one in charge.
Up until that point in time– Joy (played my Amy Poehler) has always been the leader and the prime emotion– Riley has had a happy life! With things changes rapidly, however, Sadness (played by Phyllis Smith) comes to the forefront. Joy attempts to keep Sadness at bay by trying to keep her away from the core memories. If Sadness touches or comes close to–well any memory– she instantly turns that memory sad. They don’t go into too much detail on this but I assume it is because those memories represent her old life so naturally the child would be sad when reflecting on what she left behind?
Core memories are important memories in her life that give rise to core “islands of Personality” in Riley’s head. For instance, one of her core memories is when she scored her first goal in hockey, her love for hockey being solidified in that moment, that memory gave rise to “Hockey Island”. A memory of her messing around with her father gave rise to “Goofball Island” and so on. Whenever she experiences something in her life that has to do with these memories or activities– the island is activated.
Sadness, however, proved tough to contain and she eventually attempts to open up the core memories and hold them– she doesn’t know why she is compelled to do so, but it is clear she has little self-control in the matter. Attempting to stop her, Joy shoves her away and the memories scatter– an accident happens resulting in Joy, Sadness, and the core memories being jettisoned from Headquarters and being dumped in longterm memory. With the loss of the core memories and the loss of Joy and Sadness, Riley’s islands shut down and she can no longer feel joy or sadness. Her remaining emotions at Headquarters: Fear (played by Bill Hader), Disgust (played by Mindy Kaling) and Anger (played by Lewis Black) attempt to keep everything running smoothly to no avail while Joy and Sadness go on a crazy adventure to get back and restore the core memories… and save Riley!
Can we talk about how this film was like….perfectly cast? The emotions were spot on– I loved Lewis Black as Anger, but every one of the cast portrayed their respective emotions perfectly. At first glance you would think Disgust or Fear would be annoying emotions– but they’re very funny in their own way and far less destructive than anger. I wouldn’t think of anyone else to play Joy than Amy Poehler– have you seen her in Parks and Rec? She basically plays Joy already. Surprisingly, I think Riley’s imaginary friend is the real hero of this film. His name is BingBong (played by Richard Kind) and you will love his character as he is both adorable and useful in setting up where the film is going and ultimately highlighting how Riley is changing.
The film is fairly realistic– given the concept. If you removed the emotions being represented, Riley is very relatable. Who hasn’t gone through something similar to Riley? Moving to a new place or new school or new city is tough on a young child and, while things might have been perfect before, a young mind has to learn to navigate this change. Unfortunately, it is not always as easy as attempting to stay happy all the time. You can’t suppress the other emotions and force yourself to feel a particular way. Feelings need to be confronted and dealt with and if they’re not– bad decision can be made out of fear or anger.
Sadness was initially annoying in the film, but she is supposed to be. You’re supposed to side with Joy at first because she is the fun one and you don’t really understand the function of Sadness. As the film continues, however, you get a better sense of her role and importance as she seems to be the more realistic one, smart one and deeper character overall.
The way Pixar builds Riley’s brain world is awesome and easy to digest. I’ve already described the islands of personality, but there is also a dreamland– when dreams are actually filmed and produced for her. There is a sort of jail in which Riley locks up all the things that scare her, like clowns, brocoli and others. There is an imagination are in which all things seem possible, there is a section where the floor is lava(who hasn’t played that game?” an imaginary boyfriend-maker, a cloud town–where everything is make of cloud even the house and people residing there. It is a lot of fun and I could easily see a television show being made where we just explore Riley’s ever grown mind.
If I had an issue with the film– it would be that I would like to see more of Riley? I liked her character a lot — she was adorable, and some of the best scenes were of her emoting in some way, being sad or happy or goofy, but they’re quick scenes that leave you wanting more. Whats more is that the hold movie hinges on the deterioration is Riley– she goes from being a happy-go-lucky person to a confused girl who you should feel bad for. It is hard to feel bad for her when you don’t have that much of a grasp on her. A bit more screen time, I think, would have gone a long way to making the sadder parts of the film her home even harder. My only other complaint– which the Riley thing might solve is that the film felt too short.. I felt like I was in and out of the theater.
But honestly– those are my only complaints about the film– I really did enjoy it! It had a perfect casting, interesting plot and a well-developed world!
Plot (out of 20)
The overarching plot was wonderful and relatable. Pixar did a great job of world-building in this film as concepts could have easily become convoluted or overly detailed to the point of confusion. What they did was make things both realistic, accurate and digestible to all viewers. The film– overall was a bit too short and I think they needed a bit more of Riley to round out the audiences feelings toward the character as well as the final resolution. (17/20)
Characters (out of 20)
The characters are all likable, with the exception maybe of Joy who is a bit too unrealistically upbeat? But she is Joy… it is literally her JOB, not to mention her whole reason for existing. Bing Bong was probably the most standout character for me in this film followed by Riley and Anger, I was sure they would make him the villain– but really the only villain in this film is time and bad decision-making. Bing Bong goes from being Riley’s #1 Bestfriend to being forgotten and then to ultimately being the big hero of the film.
RIley’s parents were also pretty fun in this film and it is interesting to see how they change or react when dealing with, what they perceive as, a new Riley. Parenting can be tough, no? (18/20)
Acting (out of 20)
The voice acting was perfect in this film and so was the casting.. I would watch a whole film of Lewis Black as anger raging out.. he is hilarious and perfect. Fear and Disgust are now slouches either– they play perfectly and not in an annoying way, either. They portray their emotions but still bring the humor you would expect from Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader! (20/20)
Storytelling (out of 30)
Again, my only apprehension with how they told the story is that they didn’t include more of Riley. Honestly in the trailer, there was a scene where she is leaving for school and her dad calls her a monkey and she starts literally acting like one… It’s a charming scene and honestly one of the reasons I wanted to see the film– to see that adorable character on film. Ultimately, I think including her in more of the film would have made the film feel more like a full movie as well as allow the audience to become invested more in her character and become emotionally attached, thus allowing for her deterioration to hit that much more in our heart-strings.
The story, as a whole however, was easy to follow given the possible dense material and that did impress me. (23/30)
Ad-Campaign (out of 10)
The first trailer– I think was a teaser trailer? Didn’t do much for me except remind me of Disney classics that I love and then show me a scene in the film that wasn’t quite on that level. However, subsequent trailers were solid and piqued my interest. But then, said trailer, played so much I found myself getting annoyed. Sometimes less exposure builds up more hype. I’ll leave a couple of trailers here to check out. (7/10)
— Teaser Trailer —
— Regular Trailer —