Title: Inside Out
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo del Carmen
Major Players: Voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith
Out Of Five: 4.5
Disney Pixar’s Inside Out arrives this week with a reputation to live up to. There was that standing ovation at Cannes, the rave reviews that followed and the star quality of its director, Pete Docter, who also wrote and directed Up, an animation that wasn’t just for children.
I have to be careful not to over-explain the film for two reasons: because you’ve probably heard a lot about it already and I don’t want to kill its magic and intelligence. This is a film you need to see for yourself, because it really is an experience.
The essential idea is that we see what’s going on inside the head of the 11 years old Riley, who’s moved with her parents to San Francisco from Minnesota, where she spent an idyllic childhood. There’s five Emotions running her life – Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust and their leader Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), the ultimate positive thinker – all inside her head. They all want to give Riley a happy childhood, which means working together to make it happen and Joy travelling outside the confines of what they call Head Quarters to make sure Riley’s most treasured memories are preserved.
The imagination and creativity that’s gone into the film is exceptional – and the Emotions are the easy bit. Let’s face it, we’ve all known somebody like Sadness, somebody whose glass is always at least half empty, if not totally dry. In a way, she’s probably more believable than Joy, who is so relentlessly positive that she would get on your nerves after a while. But that, of course, is one of the learning points in the story. You can’t be happy all the time. Sadness is an equally important part of life.
The creation of all the places inside Riley’s head and how she keeps her memories really sparkles. Without giving too much away, there’s the “islands” that make up her character, the appropriately named Train Of Thought and the mind workers that run her long term memory like a library …… and a whole lot more. There’s no end to the invention, it never flags and it’s never short of anything but brilliant.
It’s also a film that will strike a chord somewhere along the line with everybody who watches it. Today’s children will find it colourful and with more than enough action and adventure to keep them happy – it’s a certificate U, after all. Anybody remembering their childhood will identify with something along the way and parents or anybody who’s experienced a long term relationship will get what’s going on inside Mum and Dad’s head. There aren’t many films that have a truly universal appeal, but this is one of those rarities.
Inside Out is certainly the most anticipated animation of the summer, if not the year. More than that, it’s also one of the most anticipated films of the 2015. Does it live up to those sky-high expectations? It certainly does and Disney Pixar have pulled off something special, if not unique. It’s thoughtful, funny, imaginative and appeals to everybody in the audience: they’ll all recognise and connect with different moments. Of course, that’s what’s supposed to happen when you see a good film. But this time it’s personal.
Inside Out is on general release from Friday, 24 July and is reviewed on Talking Pictures.