Summer Blockbuster Friday #21: ‘Inside Out (2015)’- Throwback Review

When we get older, it’s strange how the emotions we go through every day could be important in any person’s head and do it very interesting to the human mind. How Disney-Pixar crafted together Inside Out focusing on the emotions we deal with without the blink of an eye probably won’t sound enough to pay attention to, but how it’s able to achieve to product to relate to both children and adults. Plus, as I was watching this again, I kept wondering what goes on in my mind daily.

What’s the Story: Living inside the head of 11-year-old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), and Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) are the five primary emotions who guides her through life. That is until Riley and her parents move from Minnesota to San Francisco, leaving her mind to go through many changes with the fact she’s going to a new school and no friends. When Joy and Sadness accidentally get sucked out of headquarters and far from Riley’s mind, it’s up to them to get back to journey through unfamiliar territories to get back home with her core memories, while Anger, Disgust, and Fear must do their best to keep Riley in tack.

Pixar is one of those companies that is magical to any age whenever an idea comes to their minds. Anything that’s coming out will make not just children be blessed with what they’re watching, but adults loving nearly every aspect of these animated movies too. The idea of Inside Out was an easy one to seek first hearing about it. I had some confidence in what was being offered. Even though they made a few missteps previously with underwhelming additions like Cars 2 (2011), Brave (2012), and Monsters University (2013), they still do their best to provide with the imagination anyone needs.But having a premise about emotions being the focus of a movie sounds pretty simple but sounds like it could be fun for anybody. Not only is this great, but it’s also safe to say its genius animation brought this company back on top.

This felt so original and amazing about how emotions can be a character that feels exactly what makes Riley the way she feels as much as the viewers. This is a concept that’s been played out before to probably forgettable results, but it was interesting watching these characters interact in the only way they can, and that’s through what emotion they’re personified as. I remembered some reviews mentioned this canceled Fox sitcom called Herman’s Head in the ’90s, though it was before my time. And for them to care so much about Riley in a parent-like way makes it more comforting in keeping her persona focused.

Pete Docter is now the “King of Pixar” having to deliver two of the best the studio came out with: Monsters Inc. (2001) and Up (2009). His third feature under his belt has him continuing to make everybody feel a certain way, along with co-directing with Ronaldo del Carmen. The backstory of how this came to be is from how Docter’s family moved to Denmark and he didn’t have many friends, which lead to him to being a drawer and pushed him to work on animation. Then he first pitched the idea after noticing his pre-teen daughter was going through changes. Not only with directing one of the more beautiful-looking in Pixar’s work, but also Docter co-writing a well-meaningful script with Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley with some of the most touching and hilarious writing of the year so far. You wouldn’t think it would go past Riley’s mind, but the creative world-building in what makes a person who they are was more inventive than one would think that never becomes needlessly complicated to understand. I almost saw the concept the writers thought of, making it smart, and see through their idea through a child’s mind and letting that imagination take control. I too thought about how dreams are thought out in your subconscious or how memories are stored, and this is coming from someone who easily remembers a lot of things as a child it would surprise even my mom.

And its funny moments didn’t go necessarily for those kids will 100% laugh at, but provides a ton of laughs everybody will appreciate, even if it’s geared towards the demographic it’s going for with the occasional laughs that’ll go over their heads. I’m always going to remember Anger’s line, “Congratulations, San Francisco, you’ve ruined pizza! First the Hawaiians, and now you!” Because as someone who loves pizza more than any food in the world, the only thing more sinful than putting pineapple on pizza is broccoli.

And the voice talents having Amy Poehler (Joy), Bill Hader (Fear), Lewis Black (Anger), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), and Phyllis Smith (Sadness) suit these characters too well, which is a testament to not focusing on the well-known actors voicing them. It’s kind of hard to picture/ hear anyone else since what you have here is a perfect cast. Poehler, in particular, has always been one of my favorite comedic actresses, especially on television, and there was no other person to provide the voice of Joy like her with her burst of energy. There’s a possibility they’ll never come out with a category for vocal performances for the Oscars, but she would be the winner right there since I believe it’s my favorite voice performance in an animated movie.

Though the focus is mostly on Joy and Sadness, this doesn’t make the other three feel underutilized. Sadness also steals scenes in almost every scene he’s in. This character isn’t the next Olaf from Frozen or even Baymax from Big Hero 6, but even if she’s annoying and the literal embodiment of a Debbie Downer, she really pulls this story together. But there’s one character Joy and Sadness meet I wasn’t even expecting to love, which is Bing Bong (voiced by Richard Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend who helps our two emotions and has always dreamt of going to the moon with Riley. This could’ve been a character leaning on the overbearing side and feel pretty unimportant to the story, and he wasn’t; Bing Bong is that perfect imaginary friend you can’t get enough of, and I’m glad they didn’t show him in the promotions.

What made it great is that it can hit you with about each emotion and does so in having the storytelling not have it be dumb down about embracing your feelings. Inside Out is one of those family movies that’s perfect for teaching younger kids how to handle their emotions whenever it calls for them. The moments where we see the characters taking control of the panel is how the person would react to certain things that I never thought of. Even when we all have those times where a situation doesn’t plan out the way you imagined it, say moving to a new place and haven’t had that urge of belonging yet, it wouldn’t hurt to remember something to brighten your mood. It’s the role of what’s happening on screen and it did just that. They certainly made this for children, but it also shows they are at the time of their lives where they need to be happy and not have this sense of depression in worrying about life’s problems.

But what does everybody know Pixar will do when they get a great movie from them? They will make us cry. There are a few scenes that will emotionally tug at your heart and make you want to tear up, and it’s here to let us know it’s okay for sadness to come through. I wasn’t expecting to cry when I saw it opening day, and every time I re-watch this, the same scenes get me. Not since Pixar’s previous magnum opus Toy Story 3 has anything happening bring people to tears makes it impactful to have it be important. If I was ten years younger when this came out, I know for sure I would love it. Since I was 19-years-old at the time of its release, it still resonates with me and I could find it more deeply than I originally thought about it.

There aren’t any nitpicks I honestly had with this since I know what I was feeling whenever I think about the film and wonder who’s taking over that person’s mind for not caring one bit about what’s was going to become a classic. Thankfully, everybody I know loves it as much as I do. Along with critically positive reviews from critics and audiences, it became the highest-grossing original movie of 2015 and what I consider one of my favorite Pixar movies, along with having the honor of being in my top three best of the entire year. No doubt being the favorite animated movie, it was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Animated Feature. And by nobody’s surprise, it rightfully won the latter. Plus, there were a few movies that should’ve gotten nominated for Best Picture that year, and I honestly thought this would’ve been an accomplishment for this to be the third Pixar film nominated in the category.

Final Thoughts: Inside Out is fantastic in every sense of each word, remaining one of Pixar’s very best films and the most entertaining family film of the entire year, without question. It’s one everybody can find fascinating with an inventive story that’s both funny and emotional. There are fleshed-out characters it’s inventive for audiences to latch onto, and everything surrounding it not just colorful, but more interesting the way we think of our emotions. My emotion walking out on my first viewing- Absolute Joy.

Grade: A

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