Running time: 94 minutes
Director: Pete Docter
From the director of some of Pixar’s most beloved films, like Up and Monsters Inc, Inside Out is the first Pixar movie that has not debuted at number one. However, it has scored the biggest box office opening for a movie based on an original idea, unseating James Cameron’s Avatar. It is also the second highest opening for a Pixar movie, after Toy Story 3. With numbers like these, it doesn’t seem such a big problem for Pixar that Jurassic World was the one who took the first place in the weekend’s box office.
11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) moves from Minnesota to San Francisco after her dad (Kyle MacLachlan) gets a new job. As she struggles to adjust to her new life, the same happens with her emotions: Joy (Amy Pohler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kailing) and Anger (Lewis Black), who live in Headquarters, the center of Riley’s mind, and guide her through everyday life. Joy, Riley’s primal emotion, tries to stay positive and in control of the situation but after a traumatic first day of school she will have to learn that all the other emotions, even Sadness, play an important part in Riley’s life.
After a problem with Riley’s core memories, Joy and Sadness embark on a journey to get back to Headquarters, taking us through Long Term Memory, Abstract Thought, the Personality Islands, Imagination Land, Dream Productions or the Train of Thought, and showing us in a very imaginative and clever way, how the mind works. It’s fair to say that the world-building in this movie is absolutely brilliant.
It is fascinating to see how these two opposite emotions develop their friendship along the journey and how they realise that they need one another. Joy, honouring her name, is a joy to watch every time she is on-screen and Amy Pohler seems to be the perfect casting. Sadness is an interesting case because I absolutely hated her at first. I wonder if it was poor writing, trying to make her too annoying, but at the beginning all her actions seemed out-of-place. That said, she developed a lot of personality on the journey and became much more likable.
Meanwhile in Headquarters, Fear, Anger and Disgust have to take over the control room and as you might guess, these three emotions are not the best to have full-time in charge. This leads to Riley making some very bad decisions and creates some conflict with her parents, like the dinner sequence featured in the trailers. A scene that played really well showing the interaction between the members of the family from the perspective of their individual emotions. It was great to see more of that in a funny montage during the credits.
As for these three emotions, I loved them. The voice acting was fantastic and they had some of the best comedic moments. I just wished we could have seen them do more stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Joy and Sadness’ quest and discovering the mind, but I also wanted to see more of the five emotions working and bickering for who should take over in certain situations. Maybe if there is a sequel about Riley’s adolescence, these three will be able to play a bigger part.
Sure, if you look too much into it, you will find some inconsistencies. For example, I feel like there should have been something to indicate that Riley was partly in control of her actions because she seemed to be like a robot. But when you have a premise so ambitious, some flaws will come along and, unlike Interstellar or Tomorrowland, Inside Out was geniusly executed and for that alone, it deserves a lot of merit. It is emotional, but not manipulative and like most of Pixar movies, kids will be entertained, but adults will be the ones to fully appreciate it. In the midst of the summer blockbusters this is a breath of fresh air and a delightful experience.