Movie Review: Inside Out
Jun 19, 2015 10:26AM ● Published by Davis Johnson
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
What makes Inside Out unique and different from Pixar’s previous films is the powerful story. The majority of the film is set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) who lives with her parents in Minnesota. The avid hockey player’s mind is governed by five personified emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), a fairy look-a-like who strives to keep Riley happy and is the de facto leader of the group; Anger (Lewis Black), a short red, square built, human torch who flies off the handle at a moment’s notice; Fear (Bill Hader), a scrawny, purple being who is afraid of everything; Sadness (Phyllis Smith), who resembles a blue office secretary who will literally lie on the ground in despair; and finally Disgust (Mindy Kaling), who looks and sometimes acts like a character from Mean Girls.
In Riley’s mind there is a room with a control board where all five emotions fight for control. Whoever is in control of the board creates suggestions that Riley can’t help but be compelled to act on, and new memories are created as a result. A new memory is contained in a sphere with a specific color (whichever emotion helped create the event). There are five core memories which embody five themed islands that make up what Riley thinks about the most. Every emotion feels they have a purpose for Riley; except for Sadness, who is often unsure what she should do for Riley. The other emotions try to keep Sadness away from the control board by giving her mundane, out of the way tasks.
When forced to move with her parents to San Francisco, Joy tries to keep Riley happy by showing past memories. When a memory that was categorized by happiness turns blue after Sadness touches it, the group is unable to change the memory back to it’s original “happy-yellow” color. Joy does her best to keep Sadness away from the core memories, but mayhem ensues as the two are sucked through a transport tube where memories are divided into short-term or long-term.
The two journey through Riley’s mind with the core memories in hand in an attempt to reactivate them to prevent any disaster. Along their journey, the two encounter Riley’s long lost imaginary friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind). He’s a pink, cotton candy creature with the head of an elephant, a nose that makes noises like a trumpet, and cries candy. Bing Bong joins the two with hopes to be able to play with Riley again.
Back at headquarters, the other emotions are unable to keep Riley happy. Anger decides that Riley should run away to Minnesota so she can be happy again and make new core memories. It quickly becomes a race for Sadness and Joy to bring back the core memories in fear of an unknown outcome should they fail.
The film tackles the representation of depression in such a remarkable way that the word doesn’t even need to be said. Riley’s character is clearly depressed at points, from not fitting in at school, failing hockey try outs, to missing everyone back in Minnesota. There is no magic solution for the struggle Riley is going through. There is no miracle cure or fairy godmother to help it go away. The underlying message is that things will get better so long as she is patient and feels loved.
If you’re looking for a film to captivate your soul then make haste to watch Inside Out. Even as an adult it will open your eyes and make you ponder your current state, and you’ll have a good laugh in the process.