Being a massive fan of Pixar films, I absolutely had to go and see Inside Out during its opening weekend. Ever since learning about the concept behind Inside Out a couple of years ago I’ve been excited about seeing the end result, but did it live up to my (extremely high) expectations? Read on to find out!
Inside Out tells the story of 11-year-old Riley, a girl who is forced to move from her happy family home in Minnesota to San Francisco, and the emotional changes involved in the transition. As she grows and matures in San Francisco, the balance between the feelings in control of her brain changes, and as Joy and Sadness become lost in the intricate maze that is Riley’s brain, Fear, Anger and Disgust are left to control Riley’s actions in Headquarters.
It is perhaps unsurprising that a film about feelings is such an emotional rollercoaster to watch, but that is indeed the first thought I had after leaving the theatre. There are plenty of humorous moments, usually at the expense of Headquarters’ resident punching bag Fear, but there are certainly times where you’re laughing with tears of sadness from the previous scene still in your eyes.
Given that only five feelings are personified in the film, the complex interrelationships between these characters are so eloquently portrayed that, as a viewer, you can really identify with Riley and the changes she is going through. It is indeed a thought-provoking picture, leading to internal debates and analyses of how your own feelings and personality traits have changed throughout your life. Perhaps that is why the film is such an emotional one to watch; it truly is a story everyone can relate to. Whether you’re mourning the loss of your own Goofball Island or constantly becoming frustrated at the silly little songs that get stuck in your head for no reason, there are plenty of cleverly observed moments that strike a chord.
Concepts such as thought, memory and personality are beautifully illustrated, and introduced in such a way that everyone, with psychological knowledge or not, can understand and grasp them. Inside Out does not come across as a childrens’ film as explicitly as previous Pixar ventures, but judging by the amount of children giggling in the cinema during the viewings, they found it just as entertaining as the adults did. In fact, I actually found the film funnier second time around, and there is plenty of comic relief from the more intensely emotional moments. Having seen the film in 2D and 3D, I can happily report that the 3D technology seamlessly enhanced and complimented the animation, and thankfully was not used as gratuitously as it is in other films. At no point were there any distracting reminders randomly flying out of the screen towards the audience for no good reason, and that is very refreshing for a 3D film nowadays.
If you’ve read any other reviews of Inside Out, you will find that there are plenty of ways to interpret the message behind the film. Personally, I think the final message of the film is that it is important to let ourselves be sad, and it reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with embracing those feelings, as it will ultimately make us feel better. You don’t often find childrens’ films that detract from the usual moral lessons of ‘accept everyone for who they are’, ‘be honest’ and ‘never underestimate the importance of family and friendship’, so the conclusion to Inside Out is almost as revolutionary as the concept behind the film. As Joy realises, you can’t be happy unless you’ve been sad, and occasionally embracing our negative emotions is imperative to good mental health.
Inside Out also deals with the theme of childhood, and its eventual end, incredibly well. After watching other Pixar films it can be difficult to shake the thought that childhood was the best time of our lives, and they can even make us feel a little sad that we’ve lost the childhood innocence that would allow us to imagine our toys coming to life, or being scared of the monsters that live in our wardrobes. However, Inside Out shows that it’s okay to let go of childhood because, as Bing Bong (Riley’s childhood imaginary friend) illustrates, childhood innocence and a constant pursuit of happiness can cause us to be destructive and naive, without caring about the subsequent damage we could be doing to other things and ourselves. That is what makes the character of Bing Bong integral to the story of Inside Out; his reckless abandon reminds us that childhood ends for a reason. Whilst we should enjoy it whilst we can and treasure the memories it creates, emotional maturity will create bigger and better things as we get older and we are reassured that we will find happiness despite whatever may happen to us. It is perhaps the most important life lesson that a Pixar film has ever taught us; growing up is nothing to be afraid of.
So, would I recommend Inside Out? Absolutely. I grew up with Pixar films, and a lot of them hold special places in my heart; the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life, etc. However, pending a rewatch of the aforementioned films, I would say that Inside Out is Pixar’s best film to date. It serves as an important reminder of Pixar’s expertise in the field of story-telling, and the careful attention to detail in the complicated topic of how our brains work, teamed with a touch of slapstick humour and awe-inspiring animation, makes Inside Out a stellar example of the greatness that Pixar is capable of.
Rating: 5 stars. 100%. 10/10. A must-see movie!
Have you seen Inside Out yet, or are you planning to in the next couple of weeks? Let me know in the comments!
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Until next time,