When a movie as hyped and eagerly anticipated as “Inside Out” is finally released, it can be a movie reviewer’s nightmare. Because EVERYONE is reviewing it.
Let me get the details out of the way for you:
Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy, whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear heads up safety, Anger ensures all is fair and Disgust prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else.
When Riley’s family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.
I had to quote the synopsis because it’s really the easiest way to do the storyline justice. And after you read what the movie is about, you’ll find that most reviews (I’m guessing) will have opinions pretty similar to mine:
- The storyline is unique and the characters are well thought out.
- The actors portraying the Emotions were extremely well cast (Phyllis Smith is a scene stealer as Sadness).
- The animation is fantastic in either 2D or 3D.
- It’s great for older kids (ages 7 and up) and adults alike. (Younger kids will like it but just won’t really understand it).
I’ll tell you right now that I’m giving the movie a thumbs up. And so did my 8 year old son. And so did my husband. The adults may have even gotten a little misty-eyed towards the end. Either that or we both had something in our eye.
The real beauty of this movie, though, is the subtlety throughout. In fact, it’s kind of the DisneyPixar trademark. If you watch one of their movies over and over again (which you usually get a chance to do when you have kids), you’ll see new things. Like the clouds in the Toy Story movies. Or Rapunzel and Flynn Rider showing up at Queen Elsa’s coronation.
Although the movie is just being released, I’ve seen it almost twice already and picked up on a few subtleties.
In May of this year, I was invited to a screener of “Inside Out” while at the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. My son, Evan, and I went with great anticipation only to find out that we would not be shown a full cut. Around two-thirds of the way through the movie, the projector shut off and we were invited to see the full movie when it was released.
Thankfully, I was also invited to a local preview of the full movie this week and was able to confirm some of the things I saw the first time around while also looking at some of the fun facts that Pixar provides about the film.
PICTURE THIS – The background memories on shelves inside or outside of Headquarters are shots from the “Married Life” scene in “Up.”
ROAD TRIP – As Riley and her parents trek to San Francisco, they come across birds on a telephone wire from production designer Ralph Eggleston’s 2000 short film “For the Birds.”
GLOBAL DÉCOR – The globe in the Riley’s classroom has been used in all the “Toy Story” films.
FAMILIAR FASHION – One of Riley’s classmates is wearing a camo pattern made up of “Toy Story” characters. STUCK ON YOU – Some of the background city cars of San Francisco have bumper stickers from “Cars.”
TECH SAVVY – Dad’s company, Brang, is a nonsense word intended to sound like a startup that would fit in in the San Francisco tech scene.
SIGN HERE – A sign on a parking meter in San Francisco reads, “Quarters and Dollar Coins or Barter During Burning Man.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT LOCATION – As a tribute to the Walt Disney Family Museum, the filmmakers set Riley’s hockey rink in the exact spot the museum is located in San Francisco.
I love the continuity between the Pixar films. But the biggest subtlety I picked up on was right smack in the middle of the parent’s brains. In one scene, we get a glimpse at the emotions in Mom’s brain (all female, as a opposed to Riley’s mixed gender emotions). And the “lead” emotion is her version of Sadness. And in Dad’s brain, we see all male emotions sitting around watching the game until they’re snapped into action. And his “lead” emotion is his version of Anger.
I don’t think Pixar is implying that children are dominated by joy while adults tend to become ruled by anger and sadness (although maybe?). But the movie’s overall message for both adults and children is that there is a place for every emotion, as a child and as an adult. We just probably need to get better in touch with them.
One final note: Don’t be late for the movie! The DisneyPixar short “LAVA” is worth the 7 minutes at the start of the movie. And I promise the song will get stuck in your head!
Disclosure: I attended an advance screening of “Inside Out” as a member of the press/media.