Television and movies; both do the exact same thing as books- storytelling- but in a different way. As of this year, I’ve expanded my blog to exploring the storytelling in these respective mediums periodically. Whether it be on the day of a significant anniversary since the release of a television series, or in honor of the release of a much anticipated film, I do my best in expressing my thoughts in not only the overall content, but in particular, the storytelling and the themes intertwined into the text. Previously, I explored the world of “Tomorrowland.” Today, I bring you my thoughts on the latest Disney/Pixar creation, “Inside Out.”
Joy. Sadness. Disgust. Anger. Fear. These are the five emotions that make up the “headquarters” of the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who just moved with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco, California. In doing what they do best, the emotions provide the most reasonable emotional responses possible regarding each situation- as they have been doing throughout Riley’s life. However, when Joy and Sadness get swept away out of headquarters via a memory tube- after Joy attempts to dispose of a sad “core memory”- they must work together to get back to headquarters before Riley falls into a dark place.
Like many others, let me say first and foremost that I’m a huge Pixar fanatic. I’ve seen every single movie they’ve released- my favorite movie of theirs being “Wall-E”- and I always love the original creations they come up with. They always take on films from a different angle and different perspective that you’d never consider otherwise- whether that be from the point of view of toys, insects, monsters, robots, and of course cars- and yet their stories are always incredibly human. When I first learned of the concept for “Inside Out” several years back, I was immediately intrigued back it, and admittedly for a really nerdy reason; that it would be a film devoted to the power of human psychology.
Some might have their critiques in advance of the movie, for the TV spots might make the film out to be incredibly cartoonish. However, what I can attest to is that you should never judge a movie by its trailers and TV spots, for I found “Inside Out” to be a really enjoyable film, and for many reasons.
One of which is for the very reason why I got psyched to see this film in the first place; that the few times I took psychology classes in college (and the one I took in high school) came rushing back to me as we see Joy and Sadness navigate their way through long-term memory, ride on the train of thought, and also what happens when a person enters the R.E.M. stage of sleep. For those who perhaps hadn’t been exposed to psychology before, may have possibly found this terminology difficult to grasp otherwise. However, I just found all that to be incredibly fascinating.
Another reason, which I otherwise hadn’t seen coming before, was that most of the leads were female. Don’t get me wrong; the Pixar films are wonderful and all, but it wasn’t until their 2012 release, “Brave,” where- for the first time- they made their lead character female. Other than that, the leads in all the other films are male. Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) did a great job bringing to life these two characters who want nothing but the best for Riley in their own respects. The voice actress behind Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) also did a great job in bringing to life this young girl who was relate-able in all five forms of the respective emotions that are stationed at headquarters. Not to mention that Mindy Kaling as Disgust was super sassy in the role, and therefore really enjoyable to watch.
A third reason is what most people can attest to Pixar films in succeeding to do; they make you feel. And while it might sound ironically hand-in-hand whose main characters are emotions, such an effect applies even to this film. Yes, it’s a super funny movie- as the trailers and TV spots never fail to acknowledge- but there’s a depth to it too where you cannot help but really care for the characters. I won’t say how- for that would involve some spoilers- but consider it truth for a film that’s already being hailed graciously by critics.
Last but not least is another reason I hadn’t seen coming, and that is the setting beyond the inside of Riley’s mind. Riley and her family move to San Francisco, and being in a room full of people who just watched their local basketball team win the NBA Finals earlier in the week, this was a sight to see. It was amazing to see familiar sights such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Embarcadero District, Chinatown and what not, in a Pixar kind of light. Already I got a kick out of San Fransokyo- the setting for “Big Hero 6”- to hone influences from the city by the bay. However, this was just taking it to a whole new level. Then again, Pixar Animation Studio is located in Emeryville- a city that’s also based in the Bay Area- so it would be understandable to pay a sort of homage to the city most of the world knows by name otherwise.
Overall, I loved “Inside Out” in all aspects of it. Plus, the accompanying short film, “Lava,” was also very enjoyable too. Pixar has pulled off another storytelling masterpiece, and now I can’t wait for their next film, “The Good Dinosaur,” to come out later this year.