Director Pete Docter Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Kaitlyn Dias, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind
Pixar has this unremarkable ability to use the most fantastical of plots and settings to convey real world tribulations that are both ingenious and entertaining, for young and old. Though recently they have had their hits and misses Pixar’s track record in this regard is actually impeccable; none do it better.
The best recent example of this is Inside Out. The story follows 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her parents (Lane and MacLachlan) as they move from Minnesota to San Francisco, covering the emotional roller-coaster that abrupt change can have on a young child. It effectively tells its targeted demographic it’s safe to grow up and that while the change that comes with that may be a difficult transition it’s ok to feel sadness. It’s healing qualities are worth the pain.
Writer / director Peter Docter struggled with this project for a long time before discovering the breakthrough he needed to make it work, and it was worth the effort as the concept of emotions personified within an individual universe that exists in every persons head is sheer brilliance. The world in Riley’s mind is imaginative and effective in bringing the film’s lighter moments to the fore. It has its dramatic moments, which will leave the more susceptible with a lump in their throats, but it’s got its share of gags and jokes, which are always funny, so that balance is there.
It uses these funny / dramatic moments to express the emotions the Inside Out plot carries with it, so the meaning is not lost on the audience. To that effect the five colour-coded representations of Riley’s emotional state, Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Anger (Black) and Disgust (Kaling), are used wisely as not only do they move the story along they also teach the audience the message of Inside Out. And while I won’t give anything away this couldn’t be truer of the character Bing-Bong (Kind), the ultimate representation of the pain of growing and change this film has to offer.
Not only that it’s structured brilliantly for a children’s film that was almost two hours. It’s pacing, direction and production are all perfect and the performances are spot-on across the board. This film demonstrates just what Pixar are capable of when it comes to these animated children’s films. Nobody does it better.
Change can be hard on people of all ages, everybody knows that. But to explain it succinctly to those who are yet to experience it is a tough ask. But here Pixar, or specifically Docter, have hit the nail on the head as Inside Out gives us a front-row view into the going-ons of a child’s head as through a period of adjustment they aren’t even aware is occurring.
This is reflective of Pixar’s recent fortunes to an extent. They’ve had a transition period of their own as they’ve broadened their appeal to a wider demographic. Maybe this had an effect on the quality of their non-sequel output, maybe it’s just coincidence but they weathered the storm and now that rough patch looks to have come to an end with Inside Out.
Times get tough, it happens to all of us, but it’s not what you endure but how you endure it. No matter how hard it gets if you come out unscathed it was all worth it. And this couldn’t be truer for Pixar, Docter and Riley.