Trust us when we say Disney Pixar‘s “Inside Out“ is that animated feature film you never knew you needed to watch. This film will get deep inside your head, but it doesn’t confuse you like any of those psychological thriller films, allowing you to understand more about those little voices in your head.
This stunning animated movie centres on Riley, a 11-year-old girl who experiences bickering emotions after she’s uprooted from her Midwest life and moves to San Francisco with her parents. On surface value, the plot of the film seems rather dull and simple. But then again, it’s a Pixar film. Director Pete Docter and secondary director Ronnie del Carmen go deeper and further into Riley’s mind, anthropomorphising her personified emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness – who help power her through each and every day.
“Inside Out” is not a trippy film per se, but at first glance, it does feel like we were going down that route upon realising that our mind is actually controlled by a set of anthropomorphised emotions. Parents might have a lot of explanations to do when their kids walk out of the theatre and question if their emotions can really talk.
However, the more compelling question here should be: Which emotion do you think is governing your mind?
For Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) is the first emotion that popped up when she was born. It’s suffice to say that Riley had a pretty happy childhood because Joy, who’s very optimistic about Riley’s future, is de facto leader of a group of colour-coded emotions that popped up much later in Riley’s head.
The key emotions include Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader), Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) and each emotion protect Riley in their own way. Joy, however, has been trying to create as many happy memories as possible, to the point of prohibiting Sadness from taking over the “control panel”.
Alas, things change. Riley finds herself facing a new life when she is forced to move to San Francisco with her parents (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan). The move causes her to leave behind her best friends and her precious home in Minnesota. It’s the kind of thing that we all would feel when we are about to leave somewhere that is filled with happy memories.
Joy and the team then tries to cheer Riley up with Joy’s optimistic behaviour and her goofball attitude, but conflicting emotions begin to take over Riley’s mind when Sadness accidentally turns yellow happy memories into blue sad memories. That is also when “all hell breaks loose” as the colour-changing memories begins to take effect on Riley almost immediately.
The filmmakers perfectly illustrated that emotional turmoil by throwing Riley and her emotions into a bit of a panic. Joy and Sadness get accidentally ejected from Headquarters, leaving Anger, Disgust, and Fear to take care of Riley and help her get through day-to-day life.
Chaos soon ensue around them. Joy must travel through various peculiar lands inside Riley’s mind to return to the HQ and save Riley from self-destruction, and in the process of doing so, risk destroying herself as well.
Everything inside Riley’s mind is neatly mapped out in the movie and each place that they travel through is heavily metaphoric. Not to mention, the visual is aesthetically pleasing and strikingly beautiful as well. First, there are personality islands surrounding the HQ and they are created when a Core Memory is formed. From Hockey Island to Family Island to Goofball Island, each and every one of them makes up Riley’s personality.
And then there’s Imagination Land, a giant theme park where Riley’s imagination usually runs wild. The place is full of imaginary things and it is also where we meet Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong. The detailed imagery of the world inside Riley’s mind is incredibly innovative and it is paired perfectly with the inventive storyline.
Sadness may seem like a total letdown, but the film shows us why she is necessary in the first place. Despite her pessimistic disposition, she is incredibly considerate and compassionate towards others, mostly because she understands the feelings of being hurt. Just like the rest of the emotions, she wants to help Riley find happiness too. Thus, this film further shows us how she goes from being an unwanted emotion to someone who is able to tell others when Riley needs help.
It is worth mentioning that this film has successfully broke the traditional narrative film with its breathtaking visuals and witty dialogues. Humans can have mixed emotions and “Inside Out” deals with this problem in such a way that truly allow us to understand why our emotional experience can feel like a rollercoaster ride.
All in all, “Inside Out” succeeded in telling a story that tugs at our heartstrings while touching on poignant topics like depression and anxiety. It also allows us to interpret our mind in a way that we’ve never seen before.
With its stellar voice cast, this heart-wrenchingly sweet movie simply has a perfect balance of sharp writing and witty one-liners.
Directed and co-written by Pete Docter, co-directed and co-written by Ronnie del Carmen, and produced by Jonas Rivera, with music composed by Michael Giacchino, “Inside Out” is slated to be released in Malaysian cinemas on 20th August 2015.