Review | Inside Out
When I wrote about Monsters University back in 2013, I discoursed how Pixar was able to maintain an incredible streak of beloved, praised animated movies – usually with an Oscar win at the end of the line. Without delivering something truly worthy of its usual quality standard since 2010’s Toy Story 3, the studio now returns to good shape with the one that may as well be their best work: Inside Out.
The plot is about young Riley’s emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kalling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Anger (Lewis Black). Those are responsible for controling the girl’s humor, memories and personality, inside her mind. When Riley faces a harsh phase when she moves from her hometown to San Francisco, having to deal with new friends and school, the group must prevent she gives in to a depression.
By the premisse alone, one can tell that Pixar is aiming for mature themes here. Pete Docter (Monsters Inc, Up) and co-director Ronald Del Carmen choose for a more realistic type of animation, with more organic traces to its human creations (far different than the ones in The Incredibles, for example), and the script from Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley deeps down in the human psyche and creates a vastly rich original universe, where ideas and memories are visually represented through islands, mazes and big cliffs – bringing back to memory movies like the ones from David Lynch (the abstract thought sequence is brilliant) Everything You Always Wanted to know about Sex… But was too Afraid to Ask (due to the representation of emotional elements as physical figures) and even Inception (the mazes and large surreal constructions).
The entire system in which the characters interact and manifest themselves (even the color distribution, with Anger being red and Joy carring a strong yellow tone) works without losing itself in its own complexity, which’d certainly leave some children very confused. On the very first scene, no dialogues are needed so the spectator can understand how each emotion works together on the “Command Room”, and how the subconscious elements are affected by, let’s say, the main character falling asleep – provoking a reaction on the Train of Thought. We also find amusing ideas for ordinary phenomenons, like an old song that keeps poping in our head or the brilliant approach to the dream production.
But even if it is a more mature movie then what we expected, it’s still a thrilling adventure with genuine heart. It’s capable of being absolutely hilarious when needed (mostly due to a colorful character I prefer to leave as a surprise) but also heartfelt and cathartic when the story moves to a more dramatic territory, in a way the studio hadn’t showed us in a long time. The sharp script also deserves praise for keeping Joy and Sadness together during most of the movie, illustrating in a very honest way how those two need each other to coexist, and not on an antagonist relation; which is the movie’s biggest trump. Also, after the reasonable Tomorrowland and the forgetful Jurassic World, Michael Giacchino finally brings a masterful work this year with his wonderful soundtrack.
Funny, powerful and completely inventive, Inside Out represents Pixar’s rebirth from its ashes, finally recovering its high post with a brave and mesmerizing narrative. Ah, how it’s good to be back…
Obs: Stay on your seat during the end credits. It’s totally worth it.