By Thomas Simpson
As far as production companies go, Pixar is pretty consistent when it comes to delivering quality. Any criticism levied at their films could be a result of the ridiculously high standard they’ve set themselves. Therefore a Pixar film is greeted with great expectation and even greater scrutiny. Inside Out is no exception.
When newborn baby girl Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) opens her eyes for the first time, we’re invited into her head. As she gets older we meet five manifestations of her emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black). The quintet live in the Headquarters of Riley’s body, controlling her emotions with Joy exercising her dominance. When Riley’s family up and moves one day, it becomes harder to keep the now 11 year old girl content, especially when Sadness starts turning happy memories into sad ones. An accident finds Joy and Sadness ejected from Headquarters and stranded in the outer regions of Riley’s mind. Both contrasting emotions must work and return to base before any permanent damage is done to their host.
With Inside Out Pixar hasn’t just released another film, they’ve released one of their best. While most of their output carefully balances the humor to satisfy both children and adults alike, Inside Out aims for an older audience. There’s no doubt kids will love the cute characters but the story is about coming of age and the difficult emotional growth that comes with it. It’s a beautiful metaphor that isn’t subtle but is brilliant.
There is so much depth to the script with one particular scene packing an emotive punch of knockout force, but I don’t want to spoil that. You’ll see it coming a mile off, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It will resonate with most audiences of a certain age who have experienced what it’s like to let go of a piece of your childhood.
What’s also important about Inside Out is that it’s incredibly funny. The gags will have you laughing aloud and thankfully they’re frequent. As mentioned, you will have something in your eye from time to time but director Pete Docter won’t be letting you leave the cinema sad. A warm climax will have you smiling, with the in-credits scenes leaving you chuckling as the lights come on.
For many, Pixar peaked with Toy Story 3, and it’s hard to argue that they’ve yet to top that series. Inside Out shares similarities with its predecessor and although the endings have similar messages, Docter doesn’t try to replicate previous successes, allowing his film to stand on its own.
For those that feel Pixar’s output has dipped in recent years, Inside Out is a stunning return to form. And if you’re looking for a perfect back-to-school film for the kids take the chance to see it in theaters while its still there. You won’t be disappointed, but more importantly neither will they.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.