If you’ve got children, little brothers, sisters or cousins, you’ll know that there’s nothing worse than sitting through an awful kid’s film. I have two little sisters and as much as I love them I’d rather freeze to death than watch Frozen again anytime soon. But I’ll happily watch Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc or pretty much any other Pixar film.
The power of Pixar films has always been their ability to appeal to both kids and adults through crafting smart but simple stories. Whether they’re stories about talking toys, lost fish, superhero families or monsters under the bed; they’re told in a way which can entertain people of all ages.
Inside Out’s story revolves around characters who are the five feelings of Riley – an eleven year old girl. There’s the always enthusiastic Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), the constantly paranoid Fear (Bill Hader), the above-it-all Disgust (Mindy Kailing), the hot-headed Anger (Lewis Black) and the depressed Sadness (Phyllis Smith).
In the first 20 minutes or so we learn that the emotions live in HeadQuarters, the control centre of Riley’s mind, where they pilot her behaviour. When something makes her happy, Joy’s in control, when something annoys her, Anger’s in control and so on and so on.
When Riley relocates to San Francisco from Minnesota with her parents, the move sends her emotions into overdrive as they try to make sense of her new life. Initially the emotions work together to help Riley feel at ease but then her first day at school throws a spanner in the works as she remembers the life she leaves behind in a heart breaking scene where Joy and Sadness find themselves stranded from HQ.
This is where the typical Pixar adventure starts as Joy and Sadness must go on quest to return back to HQ to help Riley while Fear, Anger and Disgust steer her. It’s during Joy and Sadness’s voyage that Pixar remind us just how creative and clever they can be.
On their journey, the two lost emotions pass through the Long Term Memory (a massive maze of stored memories), Imaginationland (home to Riley’s wildest ideas) and the Dream Productions (where her dreams are made like a Hollywood film). Incorporating these aspects of the mind onscreen could have easily left many of the audience scratching their heads but it’s a credit to the writers that everything is completely understandable.
The animation throughout the whole film is top notch as the vivid colour-filled world of Riley’s mind creates wonderful visuals which are likely to amaze a younger audience. Expect lots of laughs for little ones too as the slapstick humour from the emotions along with the addition of Bing Bong, Riley’s old imaginary friend, should bring out the giggles. There’s also plenty of jokes for grown up folks such as the running gag about a catchy chewing gum advert which comically explains how certain tunes get stuck in our heads.
Although Inside Out is about the five emotions in Riley’s mind, it’s Joy and Sadness who take center stage. While they probably won’t be as memorable as previous Pixar pairings such as Woody and Buzz Lightyear or Mike and Sully, the dynamic between the duo is still very entertaining. At first it appears that they are two polar opposites – Joy’s glass is always half full while Sadness’ glass is always half empty. But towards the end they realise that they both work in sync as the film delivers a completely relatable message about why we have feelings. Like Toy Story 3, the film teaches us that sooner or later childhood comes to an end as the little angels turn into little adults and that while the transition can be hard for both kids and parents, in the end, everything will be OK.
Inside Out is immensely imaginative, innovative and intelligent and if you can think of any other positive words that begin with ‘I’ then add them to the list. The fantasy world of Inside Out reflects the complicated inner workings of the mind in a very simplified way which is easily accessible to kids and will have adults marveling at how relatable it is. The film takes you on emotional rollercoaster but it’s one which you never really want to get off. Children will love it and so should you as it is not just a quality kids film but a quality film. Inside Out scores a:
Watch the trailer here: