Over the past 20 years, Pixar has wowed us by bringing to life toys (“Toy Story”), fish (“Finding Nemo”), robots (“WALL•E”) and more. But their greatest achievement until now was arguably the heartbreaking opening sequence of “Up”, where they momentarily left behind fantasy to tell a purely human story.
Well, Pixar outdoes the brilliant first 5 minutes of “Up” with “Inside Out”, a whole feature that deeply moves us by connecting directly to the human emotions. It’s nothing less than their best film to date.
Like “Up”, Pixar’s latest production was directed by Pete Docter, who also helmed “Monsters, Inc.” In “Inside Out”, he literally takes us into the mind of a little girl, Riley, right from the moment of her birth, when her first emotion appears: Joy (the voice of Amy Poehler). She’s soon joined by Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), but most often, it’s Joy who colors the memories and the personality of the kid.
Alas, at age 11, a move from Minnesota to California disturbs the whole life of Riley who, on the eve of adolescence, is already vulnerable emotionally. While Sadness contaminates her memories (an amazing metaphor for depression), Joy disappears and Fear, Anger and Digust end up in control, the elements that make up Riley’s childlike personality power down one after the other… But don’t worry, Joy won’t accept defeat that easily! This extraordinary character allows the film to never dwell too much in despair.
“Inside Out” reminded me a lot of one of my favorite films, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, which mainly took place in the head of the protagonist played by Jim Carrey, as the memories linked to his romantic relationship with his ex (Kate Winslet) were erased. Even though it’s aimed at children, Pixar’s new movie is equally original, ambitious and complex, illustrating concepts of psychology in a dynamic, fun and touching way, while also admirably respecting the intelligence of the audience, young and old. When’s the last time that you saw a cartoon that took detours into abstract thought and the subconscious?
Again, this never becomes too heavy, as “Inside Out” always remains visually awesome, with images that are almost always super bright and colorful as well as many hilarious ideas, notably when the story wanders into the Imagination Land and into Dream Studios.
Whatever your age is, whether you have kids or not, even if you don’t particularly like animation films, you must absolutely see “Inside Out”. You won’t regret it!