Inside Out

Hey everyone! This week we take a look at Pixar’s latest feature film, Inside Out. Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, and Mindy Kaling, the film is rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.

Inside Out takes a look at Riley, a teenage girl growing up, and the emotions- Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness- that control her. Life is good for Riley until her family suddenly uproots and moves to San Francisco. Riley has to leave everything behind, and her emotions have to adjust to a new life.

9 out of 10

As gut-wrenching as it is to say, Pixar has slipped these past couple years. With mediocre releases such as Monsters University and Cars 2, they lost the innovation and quality that a Pixar feature film has always had. However, Inside Out has brought them back to the high level that we’re used to seeing. Not only was the animation excellent, per usual, but the film featured exceptionally strong characters and a moving, innovative story.

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Though it goes without saying that Pixar does a good job with the animation of their films, I was especially impressed here. The one thing that made this film so appealing was the incredibly intricate use of color, and the animation allowed that to pop. Not to mention, there was a scene in which the characters literally shifted to being two-dimensional, which was done really done. All the little details created by the animators were what allowed this movie to be so visually appealing. Props to them.

 If you want to get technical, then calling this film a road-trip would be appropriate. The two main characters, Joy and Sadness, played by Poehler and Smith respectively, find themselves miles away from their headquarters with a desperate need to get back. I found myself fighting for them to get back, probably with a greater sense of panic that they were. Every objective that they faced, I was as frustrated with. My point is, I was invested and along for the ride. Tears were indeed shed. The movie’s plot was unique like no other– I was astounded by the creativity of the entire thing. The premise was incredibly inventive; I mean, the emotions inside of our body actually being alive? Who comes up with that stuff?

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They did a very nice job on all the characters too. Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith (Phyllis from The Office!) were on point and had really great chemistry. The supporting cast of Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling were hilarious and provided great support. Even more so, the way that each of the emotions were personified was incredibly well done. The characters were probably the most well executed aspect of this film, end to end.

The most powerful thing about the film was its deeper meaning. The whole connotation surrounding love and family was perfectly executed, especially as this film was able to recognize its audience. Slightly more mature kids, but still younger children. And even more impressively, though this film was not intended for angsty 17 year olds, it still hit hard. It featured a universal message that appeals to all age groups, and did it with perfect execution.

Now Inside Out did have minor flaws- at times it felt like they were desperate to add another obstacle for Joy and Sadness to encounter, undoubtedly making it feel a bit stretched. I’d say 5-10 minutes could be cut out without any of the important substance being lost. That being said, this can be easily forgiven. While it could have been shorter, those 5-10 minutes were still entertaining and well worth my time.

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When it gets down to it, Inside Out is one of my favorite films of the year so far. It is moving, charming, and an incredibly innovative film. Inside Out is definitely a film that will ultimately rank among Pixar’s bests, not to mention one that puts the studio back on track after 3 years of (relative) duds.

9.0 out of 10

Inside Out has been widely heralded as a return to form for Pixar following the studio’s misfires with Cars, Cars 2, and Monsters University. The studio has pledged a number of sequels, including Finding Dory, Cars 3 (yikes), The Incredibles 2, and Toy Story 4, all set to be released in the coming years. But with Inside Out, Pixar proves that it still has the glorious creativity and originality that has defined it for more than a decade.

And yes, Inside Out is as inventive as a film can get. Many have chided it for following the perceived Pixar formula – what if _____ had feelings? – but Inside Out manages to find its own niche even within its classic mold. It takes an inventive look inside the mind of a young girl nearing her teenage years and introduces us to the feelings that, for better and for worse, control her emotions.

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It has all the winning energy, animation, and gags necessary to keep the attention of its younger target audience. The emotions are all gorgeously animated, the vocal work is fantastic, and the scenery is bright and full of action and adventure. Sequences with Bing Bong, the protagonist’s childhood imaginary friend, are dazzling and fully entertaining. The story is easy enough to follow, with potentially confusing plot structures thoroughly explained at the beginning of the movie in a way that doesn’t feel forced. The movie’s relatively short runtime ensures that it doesn’t overstay its welcome and bore its potentially fidgety young audience members.

Beyond that, though, Inside Out has all the deeper meaning that has come to characterize the upper echelon of Pixar films. It has plenty of puns and subtle word play (Anger’s head lights on fire because he’s a hothead, Sadness is shaped like a teardrop) and references and situations that will hit home only for audiences who have been through the emotional development Riley is beginning to experience. Inside Out also makes a real inquiry into hour our brains function and how our actions can be dictated by our emotions. We take rides on the train of thought, see memories fade into blackness, and see the struggle for control our emotions wage within our minds.

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The only place Inside Out loses some points is in its middle stages. The beginning of the movie, where we are introduced to the emotions and each has its hilarious moment in the spotlight, is absolutely amazing. The ending, where each finds its new, more complex role within Riley’s mind, is again absolutely amazing. In the middle though, it seems almost as if the director was looking for a way to extend the running time, and we were met with a number of seemingly meaningless plot details which, while entirely entertaining, were ultimately unnecessary for the conclusion of the story and had the sense of prolonging the natural course of the story.

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These minor hitches cannot undermine the sheer brilliance of Inside Out. It is simultaneously uproariously funny and heartbreakingly sad, blissfully slapstick and pensively subtle. It is a win for audiences of all ages and all but a guarantee for Best Animated Feature of the Year. Maybe it can even score a Best Picture nomination.


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