Welcome back Pixar! Spoilers within.
It’s been a rather rocky road for the company in recent years. We’ve had an unnecessary, and in my opinion bad, sequel with Cars 2; an unnecessary, but okay prequel with Monsters University, and an interesting but flawed film with Brave. This film however is a return to form with unique ideas and very likable characters.
The overall concept has been seen before of emotions being animated and having control over an individual in the form of a command centre. The first one that came to my mind was Reason and Emotion an old WWII propaganda short from Disney. As it portrays the characters looking out at the world through a screen as this does, and shows the change from child to adult with who is in control at each time. Of course this is a feature film and as such can go into far more detail, and they sure do with all the different sections on dreams, imagination, trains of thought, and the subconscious. The core memories and the islands of personalities I thought in particular was genius. I also really loved the display of long term memory and forgetting, the way the orbs turn grey and fade away.
I love the character designs of the emotions with them all being unique like Fear having the widest eyes. Anger with his flaming head when he loses it over stuff. Also I liked Joy’s hair being blue, a subtle hint that Joy and Sadness go together. The only thing I would have liked to see was Sadness having that connection too like maybe her sweater being a light gold or green to match Joy better. The voice acting is great and I’m amazed they got Louis Black into something child friendly, nice job guys.
I love the presentation of Riley and her family too. It’s great to have a female protagonist with no romance aside for the imaginary boyfriend and who enjoys princesses, unicorns, and hockey. Look a well-rounded character who gets an arc and loving parents who admittedly are a bit distracted, but hey their entire household is basically sitting in a moving van in Texas can you blame them?
Still for me the absolute best thing about Inside Out is its theme. The wonderful message that it is okay and in fact necessary to feel sad and to express that to others. Forcing yourself to be happy is not emotionally healthy and holding everything in because you don’t want people to be mad or disappointed in you is not a good thing. That is such an important message for kids and for adults too. How many of us have put on a brave face rather than admit our true feelings? How many times have we been told to just get over it be happy? How many times did that actually work?
Really the only thing I didn’t like about the movie was the title credits, seriously you have a world of sentient emotions and memory orbs in matching colours that fly around in tubes and you don’t make a cool opening ala Monsters Inc.? And the short subject paired with it, Lava. I thought the song was goofy and the story trite. Outside of the very cool looking special effects animation of the smoke I didn’t enjoy it at all.
So as early thoughts go I have to say that this film is great. It’s wonderful to see Pixar back in top form with great characters, a great message, and an engaging world. For anyone who hasn’t already seen the movie I highly recommend doing so.