**** (out of 5)
June 19, 2015
Amy Poehler as JOY
Phyllis Smith as SADNESS
Richard Kind as BING BONG
Bill Hader as FEAR
Lewis Black as ANGER
Mindy Kaling as DISGUST
Kaitlyn Dias as RILEY
Diane Lane as MOM
Kyle MacLachlan as DAD
Directed by: Pete Docter
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In recent years, as much as people still adore Pixar, there has been a sentiment that the brilliant animation company has lost a bit of its heart. Personally, I haven’t had a problem with the recent films. I enjoyed “Cars 2” quite a bit (even more than the first one), I thought “Monsters University” had plenty of charm, and I wasn’t bothered by the Disney Princess nature of “Brave.”
Still, there is a definite return to form with the new offering “Inside Out.” It’s not that Pixar’s recent films have been bad. Instead, the animation studio has been mining existing properties (in both its canon and the parent company Disney) for sequels and derivative stories. “Inside Out” represents the out-of-the-box, high-concept filmmaking that helped make Pixar a leading brand. It’s no surprise that the film is directed by Pete Docter, who gave us the incredibly unique “Up,” which was probably one of the most creative films from the company.
In fact, “Inside Out” is easily the most high-concept piece that Pixar has ever done. More than just talking toys or cars, it’s extremely abstract. The story follows the emotions inside the mind of a twelve-year-old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). While most of her memories have been happy, the emotions face a new challenge as Riley’s parents move from Minnesota to San Francisco, and she has to face going to a new school. Add the fact that she’s on the edge of adolescence, and you’ve got a girl with increasingly complex emotions.
In the film, Joy (Amy Poehler) is the dominant emotion. However, when Sadness (Phyllis Smith) starts to tinker with emotions and core memories, these two have to go into the deepest recesses of Riley’s mind to get things set right.
“Inside Out” is one of those movies that could only be made by a company with Pixar’s track record. Sure, it’s the same basic concept as the early 90s sit com “Herman’s Head,” but it’s still something that the audience has to wrap their brains around… almost literally. I imagine there are few movie executives willing to allow a film like this to be made to the tune of $100 million or so. Generally, Hollywood wants something more concrete.
But this is Pixar, and it was worth it to take that risk. And in the end, the risk paid off.
Like the other brilliant Pixar films, “Inside Out” isn’t just about cool animation and bright colors. The filmmakers have taken great care to tap into the emotions of the audience, not just the characters. The voice cast is brilliant, with Mindy Kaling (as Disgust), Bill Hader (as Fear) and Lewis Black (as Anger) to support Poehler and Smith.
Because the majority of the film exists within the head of a child, it taps into all the emotions that most of its audience has felt, is currently feeling or will feel very soon. This makes it ultimately relateable to all ages, encompassing the cliche of everyone from 2 to 92.
The animation is gorgeous, and the characters are sweet. “Inside Out” is certainly a movie that brings back the original Pixar charm. It’s a powerful film that makes you feel all of the emotions you see on screen, and I challenge anyone to watch it without tearing up just a little bit.