Review: Inside Out

Disney and Pixar. Whenever a movie fan hears those two words, instantly the idea of a hit animated motion picture pops into that movie fan’s head. Coincidently, that is where the latest animated venture from Disney and Pixar takes place: inside someone’s head.

Basically, whenever a person is born and as they grow, emotions dictate actions, thoughts, speech, habits and the memories and ideas that stem from those actions make up the core personality of said person. Those emotions include joy, sadness, disgust, fear and anger and those happen to be the names of the main characters of Inside Out.

Image by Disney

These characters make up the character of Riley, a twelve year old girl who is uprooted from her home in Minnesota because of her dad’s business and finds her family relocating to the city by the bay, and her emotions are having quite the effect on the move.

Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, has been with Riley since the beginning. She takes great pride in the fact that Riley’s core memories, the memories that make up her personality, are all related to her. After the move, the core memories are touched by¬†Sadness, voiced by Phyllis Smith, which in turn begin to affect her personality and after a mishap, Joy and Sadness are whisked from “headquarters” and into the expansive territory known as “long-term memory” and they must return before Riley’s remaining emotions, Anger, voiced by Lewis Black, Disgust, voiced by Mindy Kaling, and Fear, voiced by Bill Hader, influence Riley to make a decision they and Riley may regret.

Am I going to get on the bandwagon? Am I going to say that Inside Out is (one of, if not) the best work Disney and Pixar have done to date? Is Inside Out one of the year’s best movies? My answers to all questions: no.

I respect Inside Out, I went in with very high expectations for this movie and I found it quite clever in a lot of respects but to me, the hype is not exactly justified. I found the film very entertaining and imaginative but for some reason, I just didn’t love it as much as I loved other works from Disney and Pixar. It’s up there though.

I loved the story and the concept that Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley. Inside Out is an adventure within an adventure and it is beautifully well done regarding how the microcosm that is Riley’s emotions touch the macrocosm of Riley and her parents adjusting to life in San Francisco.

The characters and the imagination that went into the world of Riley’s mind is nothing short of clever. The Train of Thought, Imagination Land, The Abstract Thought Chamber, The Dumps, all of it simply ingenious craftsmanship courtesy of Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen and I thought the voice cast, in addition to Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan, were all proper, to say the least.

I felt that where Inside Out fell short was with the story and it’s progression from its exposition to its resolution. Unlike most Disney-Pixar ventures, I on some level just couldn’t connect with the film the way I hoped I would because I feel that, better than anyone, we all have voices in our heads guiding us to do the things we do and in some ways, the film just falls short of its true potential.

I felt that there were plot holes I was hoping would be filled but weren’t, for example, I had hoped Joy would give Riley a moment to remember her lost imaginary friend but the film came and went without that and I felt disappointment in that.

It felt that the film was trying to usher the message “it’s okay to be sad sometimes” because the struggle between Joy and Sadness had that underlying message; joy is a fleeting emotion and it can’t last forever and only through sadness can a person become vulnerable to feel more joy later on.

By no means am I saying Inside Out is a disappointment. I believe it is the front-runner to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature next February and it is creatively and constructively the best animated feature released this year, but what I am saying is that as good as it was, it could have been better.

I cannot say that Inside Out is the best Disney and Pixar have ever done. I wanted to like it more than I did, but I felt that it missed the mark somehow and doesn’t really live up to its hype or its potential.

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