Pixar is back, baby.
Pixar, the creators of such amazing films as the Toy Story franchise, WALL-E, Finding Nemo, and my personal favorite, Up, have been on bit of a losing streak recently. We got Cars 2 (38% on Rotten Tomatoes) Brave (78%) and Monsters University. (78%) While that doesn’t seem bad, excluding Cars, the black sheep of the Pixar family line, every other Pixar film has had a 92% or above on Rotten Tomatoes. That is incredible, just showing how good these guys are at making films. After Toy Story 3 wrapped up the franchise (or apparently not, because we definitely asked for Toy Story 4) we have been getting bad to ok efforts from Pixar. 2 out of 3 were sequels. And if you look at Pixar’s films confirmed that are currently in production, you see Finding Dory, Toy Story 4, Cars 3, and The Incredibles 2. (I’m actually excited about The Incredibles 2.) Than there is The Good Dinosaur, an original film. But 4 out of 5 of these films are sequels. Merchandising is starting to affect Pixar a bit too much, I’d say.
But now we have Inside Out, the latest Pixar movie, from the mind of Pete Docter, who directed Up and Monsters Inc, and has been helping write since the original Toy Story. And it does not disappoint, even with the loftiest of our Pixar expectations.
Inside Out starts off wonderfully, with a great opening sequence explaining the wacky plot: Riley is a girl from Minnesota who is silly, honest, and loves friends, family and hockey. Inside her head, we see her five emotions which make up what happens with her on a daily basis; Joy (Amy Poehler) Sadness (Phyllis Smith) Fear (Bill Hader) Disgust (Mindy Kalingall ) and Anger (Lewis Black.) After Riley, now 11, moves to San Francisco, she starts to sink to new lows, missing her friends in Minnesota and the life her family had there. Everything is suddenly different and strange. Things get even worse when Joy and Sadness accidentally get transported to Riley's memory bank, with no way back to headquarters, leaving only Anger, Disgust, and Fear to control Riley's emotions. The rest of the movie is a race for Joy and Sadness to get back and help Riley out before she goes too deep into her newfound depression.
Despite having very simple characters (Joy is extremely optimistic, Sadness is sad about everything, etc.), the movie makes it work by stuffing almost each emotion with tons of hilarious dialogue. However, the funniest parts are easily the brief glimpses we get into other people's psyches and how their emotions control them. It gets to a lot of belly laughs, and the movie balances the themes of sadness extremely well with this humor.
Inside Out is extremely creative, with it getting on the very edge of where it seems a little far fetched. I'm sure for some people the line will get crossed, but for me it stayed logical the entire time.
The animation is great (duh.) Pixar has a lot of creativity to work with here -- exploring the inner sanctums of how we think -- and they do not disappoint. We see many different awesome places, like Imagination land, Riley's subconscious, and my personal favorite, Dream Productions, a film studio for Riley's dreams, which is what seems to be a nod to Dreamworks. However, one of my favorite things about this movie is how it balances the humor between adults and children. Children will laugh a lot at some of the jokes in this movie, and so will adults. This is something Pixar has always done well, and it is just as great here.
It's not perfect, though. The emotion Disgust doesn’t get as much of a chance to be a more funny and important character than any of the other emotions, which feels unbalanced to me. The comic relief character that comes in later in the film, Bing Bong, isn’t as funny as any of the other characters and I didn’t really care much about his character arc compared to others. But I’m nitpicking. Inside Out is a great movie and will be enjoyed by adults and children. It’s hilarious, thoughtful, touching, and a great time. I can’t wait to own it.