Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out (2015)

Inside Out (2015) - Directed by Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carman; Written by Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paula Poundstone, Bobby Moynihan, Paula Pell, Frank Oz, John Ratzenberger, Flea, Rashida Jones.

By Kenny Howell 

Pixar films can be touching, they can be clever, but the best are both.

Inside Out, the latest which goes inside the head of an 11-year-old girl who recently moved across the country, does that, maybe a little more clever than endearing, but definitely has its moments.

The little girl is Riley. She has just moved from the only home she has ever known, Minnesota, to San Francisco. The stress of the move has put a lot of work in for her emotions. They are personified in five different characters, led by Joy, the overly optimistic pixie voiced by Amy Poehler. There is also Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Anger (Lewis Black). The emotions work together to figure out what each other need to do to keep Riley going.

They live and work in a world inside Riley's brain, an expansive land which has an operating center, and different "islands" such as family, friendship, hockey (Riley's favorite activity) and others. Her memories are kept in little orbs, which are stored in things like core memories, then deep inside her brain where some eventually go out and are forgot forever.

It's hard to really explain in a paragraph what Pixar has established in this world, and you really need the whole movie to know how it all works. The key to the movie working is that the storytellers do such an excellent job of creating this world, and being able to let you fully understand how it operates. It is totally unlike anything we have known, and by the end of the film you could probably find your way around it if you were dropped into it.

After Riley has a bit of an emotional breakdown at her new school, Joy and Sadness get lost outside of their operating center, and must travel through Riley's mind to get back. Anger, Disgust and Fear are left to operate her brain, and Riley slips into a depression. Pretty heavy stuff for a kids movie, but Pixar handles it with care, so you are able to relate to it, understand it, but doesn't make the movie too heavy. Joy and Sadness have adventures through the different parts of her mind, like dreams, fears, even abstract thought and most of the laughs come from that. They travel their way back, trying to get back in control of Riley before she does something dangerous.

There are very emotional moments in this film, but maybe not as affecting as something like Toy Story 3. Pixar is able to capitalize more on the clever moments in this one, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Rating: ***1/2

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