Cinematic Releases: Inside Out

We may be a little late to the game, but check out our review of Inside Out.

"Look how colorful we are. They should
have called this movie Pixar's Pride!!!"
From Toy Story's debut in 1995 through Toy Story 3 in 2010 Pixar enjoyed an unprecedented streak of great films that were also wildly financially successful.  These films were funny, smartly written and appealed to literally everyone, and were cast with the best actor for the role, not just the biggest.  Somewhere around 2011 Pixar lost their way, lazily releasing so-so films like mediocre sequels Cars 2 and Monsters University or the glorified Disney princess movie Brave.  Meanwhile, Disney proper, under the guiding hand of former Pixar chief John Lasseter, was knocking it out of the park with big CG animated films like Oscar winners Frozen and Big Hero 6.  In 2014 Pixar took its first year off in almost 2 decades while preparing two new films for release this year, with the first, Inside Out, opening this past weekend.  Could Pixar recapture the magic of pre-2011?

Thankfully, the answer to that question is "yes".  Inside Out is the creation of original Pixar braintrust member Pete Docter, who also brought us two of Pixar's most emotionally resonant films, Monsters, Inc. and the magnificent Up.  Inspired by Docter's own preteen daughter, Inside Out personifies the basic emotions driving the daily life of 11-year-old heroine Riley: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust.  In true Pixar fashion each of these has a perfectly chosen voice counterpart (Mindy Kaling nails Disgust, but more from Bill Hader's Fear and Lewis Black's Anger would have been nice.)  Amy Poehler as Joy and The Office's Phyllis Smith as Sadness are the centerpiece characters here, and both (particularly Smith) shine in their roles.  Celebrated character actor Richard Kind gives a scene-stealing performance as Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong, and John Ratzenberger also drops in for his trademark Pixar cameo.

"Look everyone!!! I can read!!"
The heart of any Pixar film is emotion, and even though this a film that turns complex emotions into cartoon characters the feelings here are very real and relatable.  The film highlights Riley's struggles to adapt to life in a new town, and dealing with happy, formative memories suddenly becoming sad ones.  Where so many other films would fall into a trap of becoming maudlin or heavy-handed, Inside Out handles this with the trademark Pixar velvet touch and brings a very real tear to the eye of even the most cynical viewer.  If there is a complaint to be had, it's that Inside Out takes a tad bit long to really get going, but is a wonderful experience once it does.

It would be a bit lazy to speak of Inside Out in terms of its ranking within the Pixar pantheon, but it is almost certainly their best by far since Toy Story 3.  It is that perfect balance of funny, heartbreaking, resonant and triumphant that we've come to expect from Pixar, though it does labor just a bit to get there.  Inside Out is preceded by a trailer for Pixar's next release, this November's infamously troubled The Good Dinosaur.  While this trailer didn’t inspire much confidence in Pixar's immediate future (it's worth noting that Toy Story 4 is also currently in production), at very least Inside Out reminds us of the magic we've come to love from Pixar, and gives us hope for more magic to come.

StumbleUpon Reddit Pinterest Facebook Twitter Addthis

-Mike Stec