Feelings. Emotions. Emotions having feelings. Feeling emotional………
You’ll experience an overwhelming amount of feelings and get emotional during Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out. This movie gets incredibly creative as it invents a new world that exists inside all of us. First, let’s start with the cast.
I can’t think of any one better to play the role of Anger than Lewis Black. He was a riot, and absolutely perfect. Bill Hader joined the group as Fear, and was fine, nothing special if you ask me. Mindy Kaling voiced Disgust, and while she definitely had the least recognizable voice in the group (a positive thing, I might add), I was hoping she would have more lines, since her character was entertaining.
Amy Poehler voiced the leader of the group, Joy, and in doing so became an animated version of my hero, Leslie Knope (Parks & Recreations). While I love the character of Knope, it was a little hard to visualize Joy as a different and unique character, since she possesses similar traits to the Deputy Director. It was a hurdle I tried to overcome, and while I enjoyed Joy’s perseverance to correct the situation she found herself in, the whole time I kept envisioning my favorite TV show, and that distracted me from getting to appreciate Joy.
But the biggest surprise, I’m happy to report, was Phyllis Smith as Sadness. While she may not have made extraordinary strides to animate her voice as well as I feel Kaling accomplished, Smith enhanced the development of Sadness with an Eeyore-esque tone of despair that was truly distinctive to her character. Throughout the movie, you feel a range of emotions in connection to Sadness, making her the most defined character of the group. She goes from being annoyingly depressing to plain annoying (by way of the plots progression), to sympathetic, and finally you end with cheering her on as the surprise under-dog. Sadness is a great character, truly diverse and complex.
The set-up is brilliant. I especially love how creative the writers got with creating this world, AKA your brain. It’s like a factory that manufacture’s every memory you process, and there is great detail on what happens with long-term memories, imagination, core memories, and what creates a human’s personality. Of course, in this “factory” like workplace, there’s some mischief between the other workers “on the floor”, which explain certain phenomena such as why songs get stuck in your head, for instance. 🙂
The five emotions work at “Headquarters”, and have the ability to see the world through human Riley’s eyes. It is their job to essentially keep Riley happy, by influencing her with the right emotions at the right time. They also have access to memories that can help set the mood, if you will, and keep Riley progressively moving in a positive direction.
The conflict of this movie occurs as Sadness becomes restless and begins getting into Riley’s core memories. These are the most important memories, because they define Riley’s personality traits. The emotions have the power to change the memories to reflect what they stand for. For example, the core memories are all created by Joy, but as Sadness touches them, we see the memory start to change and get blanketed into sadness. As Joy tries to save the core memories, she finds herself, along with Sadness, thrust out of HQ and onto the floor. This starts the determination of Joy to get back to HQ, because leaving the other three emotions to advise Riley’s mood is unbalanced, and quite honestly a problem. Imagine if you only had Anger, Fear, and Disgust running your life. That would be a pretty bleak outlook, don’t you think?
Of course, this disaster occurs in coordination with a big change in Riley’s life. That being the family moving from their beloved and spacious Montana to a small, decrepit row house in California.
Before you say anything, apparently it IS possible to be sad in the state where Disney began… I dunno, preteens are unpredictable, I suppose,and at this time Riley is at the ripe old age of eleven, cresting on the stubborn teen years. One might say: The Perfect Storm.
Joy and Sadness embark on the journey back to HQ, and are met with some obstacles, of course, but mostly it’s bad timing. Honestly, the journey back was not all that exciting for me. I was more intrigued by learning the process of memories and what makes a personality than caring if they made it back – because, ultimately, you knew they would.
The question that I believe was supposed to keep the “journey” interesting, was that Joy and Sadness were racing against the clock, because Riley’s personality was being jeopardized and we weren’t sure how much of Riley would be left by the time Joy got back to HQ to save the day.
Even still, the threat that Riley could turn into an angry, paranoid, judgmental creep if Joy and Sadness failed, was not that imminent. That’s the one area I believe the movie failed.
But, Pixar did succeed in making this Diva bawl her eyes out during one of the – shall I be so bold? – saddest moments in Pixar Film history! I won’t give it all away, but for those of you who have seen the movie, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about. I didn’t see it coming, and I’m actually going through the grieving phases as we speak. Today, I’m stuck on denial.
The movie envelopes a great amount of “growth”, and threads this theme throughout and in many different ways. Most obvious would be watching Riley grow from an infant into a young girl. She leads a relatively happy life, and even when the family has to move, Joy makes sure that Riley adjusts as easily as she can.
We also experience growth during the tribulation of Joy and Sadness. Joy not only learns tolerance for her somber sidekick, but begins to realize that each emotion plays an intricate role in creating Riley’s memories. Knowing joyfulness can only be felt when one has experienced sadness. Without each other, Riley would not be able to enjoy the pleasures of what interests her.
It becomes apparent to Joy that a memory not only can be changed, but should be. While Riley’s core memories, which include playing hockey and ice-skating with her parents, were once a single-emotion (joy), now that life has been changing for Riley, her looking back on those memories of her childhood home would inevitably stir up some sadness as well. A mixture of sadness and joy creates a bittersweet memory, a completely new emotion. We start to see that the five emotions can combine together to create a multitude of feelings, which is necessary for a young-adult to have.
Being a baby and a young child, they can’t experience or understand complex emotions because they’re young and learning about life. But as we grow, like Riley, it becomes apparent that entering into adulthood with basic emotions is impossible, and at the same time, unrealistic. The movie shows the audience that we have to be capable of having a vast amount of emotions, because that shows that we are growing into more complex human beings. The way this is done is beautiful and perhaps more intricate than you would expect from a “kids movie’.
All in all, Inside Out has a different feeling from the normal “story-telling” type that we’re used to with Pixar. It feels deeper and more philosophical on some level, making it tough to declare that I will watch it over and over again, as I do with other classics such as Toy Story and Monster’s Inc. I believe that this movie has a unique and more mature outlook, so you have to be in a certain mood to sit back and enjoy it. As I stated in the beginning – you WILL feel, you WILL react emotionally, and most likely, you WILL cry. You may also need a moment to reflect, I did. I couldn’t leave the theater right away, I needed some time to digest all of the feelings that were stirred up inside due to this film. For this reason alone, I would claim that Inside Out is a success, because a movie that can get you to consider your own life is a pretty powerful thing.
My final word of advice: Go see it today, and bring tissues.