Writer/Director: Pete Docter
After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
The films starts with the birth of baby Riley and with her, her memories and emotions are formed. Pixar finds a creative way to procedure personalities for the different emotions that make up the person that is Riley. At the start we are introduced to Joy, a very hyper go-getter of an emotion whose main goal is to make Riley happy. Shortly after, we are introduced to the other 4 emotions that make up the base of Riley’s personality: Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. These 5 emotions monitor Riley’s day-to-day life and determine how she will respond to moments with an operating board that resembles the console you would see on a sci-fi space ship. The main operator of the board is Joy, her outgoing personality easily takes over. Focusing on her mission to make Riley as happy as possible with the belief that only happy feelings/memories count.
Riley’s life is quickly thrown for a loop as her and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco. The tone of the movie changes as multiple events take place to paint San Francisco as an undesirable place for Riley to live. While Joy is micro-managing the emotions to try to make Riley as happy as possible, Sadness is constantly isolated and left out. As Riley is adjusting to her new life, tragedy strikes in the control panel and Joy and Sadness find themselves lost in a labyrinth made of landmarks that include places like an endless field of shelves with the stock of Riley’s memories, a theme park that is like world of imagination, a film studio where dreams are made and a danger zone for abstract thoughts where things change shape and dimension when it is activated.
While on their journey back to the control panel, Joy and Sadness run into several random characters that take care of Riley’s memories. One of the characters they run into is Riley’s long lost imaginary friend Bing Bong, a crazy mix of a cat-elephant-dolphin hybrid. He acts as a guild for Joy and Sadness to help them try to catch a train back to the control panel. Bing Bong is easy for children to like and laugh at as a bright happy character bouncing around and is easily distracted from the mission. For adults, Bing Bong has a different purpose in the film, almost as if he represents what is lost when transitioning in life from a child to an adult. After sacrificing himself to save Joy from a dark area where memories go to be forgotten, Bing Bong symbolically fades away.
A concept that most likely flies over the short heads of the young target audience, is easy for adults to see and relate to, both because they went through it and for the fact that their children will be going through it soon as well. Pixar finds a unique way to explore the mechanics of how things can be forgotten and how core beliefs can shape who a person is and how a personality can change when life happens. Overall Inside Out finds a creative way to show how valuable each emotion is and that sadness is just as important as happiness.
The movie it self may feel a tad slow at times as the film has moments clearly meant for children’s entertainment, but over all the film is adorable and easily relatable for any age. Each emotion has its own way of making you laugh, even with its obvious stereotypes. Also if you cry easy in movies, I may recommend bringing some tissues, I can see why people have shed a tear or two during this film.
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