Movie Review – Inside Out

TL;DR – Pixar at its best

Score5 out of 5 stars

Inside/Out. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.
Inside/Out. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.


In my younger years, Pixar was a company that could do no wrong, every film they put out was a masterpiece or at the very least amazing. Also, they were risk takers, dealing with issues such as mortality and death in children’s films. To this day the first 20 minutes of Up are some of the most heart-wrenching moments in cinema, but also a masterclass in how to tell a story with minimal dialogue. Then something went wrong, Brave, while interesting was more good than great, then Cars 2 streamed in, and Monsters University, and it looked like Pixar had burnt through all its good ideas.  Well if Inside Out proves anything, it proves that Pixar still has it.

Everyone in the cast brings something special to their role
Everyone in the cast brings something special to their role. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar

The basic premise of Inside Out is that we are seeing inside the mind of a young girl Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) as she moves to a new city and tries to re-establish her life in the unfamiliar territory. Inside her mind, we are introduced to her five core emotions Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). It is the story that really draws you in, as it is both immediately accessible, yet there is a much deeper meaning to everything going on. If there is one thing that Pixar is good at it is not being afraid to hit you right in your emotional core. It is actually quite hard to describe this movie, as it is very difficult to discuss the plot in any way without spoiling the movie but it is a beautiful insight into how we manage change and emotion.

There are a number of standout performances in the voice cast, the interplay between Joy and Sadness is at the heart of the movie and the wonderful voice acting of Poehler and Smith really shine in these moments. A special mention has to be made of Richard Kind’s performance as Bing Bong, Kind has a habit of playing morose and depressed characters, but he truly brings Bing Bong to life. While these are the standouts, all the voice acting is really solid and it really brings you into the world they have created.

Inside Out get more of the science right then many 'science' films
Inside Out gets more of the science right then many ‘science’ films. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar

Another wonderful factor in this movie is the amazing art direction, it truly complements the story, sometimes subtlety reinforcing the themes, and a wonderful example of this is when they enter abstract space. Both the art direction and the story show that everyone did their homework, and this gives an animated story about a bunch of emotions floating around in a head a sense of tangibility that you rarely get in even live action films.

In the end, this was the best film I have seen so far this year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this film do well come Oscar time.

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Inside Out?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Directed By – Pete Docter
Screenplay by – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley
Story by – Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen
Starring – Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane & Kyle MacLachlan
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: G; Ireland: G; NZ: G; UK: U; USA: PG


6 thoughts on “Movie Review – Inside Out

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  4. Not every person is an emotional person—at least, not every person feels or expresses emotions in the same way. That is one reason why I am reacting the way that I am to Doctor’s recent film, Inside Out.

    I am not writing this because I hate emotions. I value emotions. Emotions are the feeders not only of passion with all its disruptions to daily living, but of imagination and imagination’s creative urges. Emotions are where playfulness meets productivity. Originality is the result.

    Call me late to the draw, but this two-year-old film Inside Out has me more upset than its preteen protagonist, Riley.

    Why was Riley upset? Why am I upset?

    Sadness has no purpose. At least, that is how the plot of this 2015 film starts out.

    All we know is that every “good” sensation is categorized as such by the ever-optimistic Joy. Joy is there from the very beginning to greet Riley’s world at birth. Sadness is her inexplicable alternate.

    They have three companions in the Control Center of the brain: Disgust is there to protect Riley from pain. Fear is there to protect Riley from hurt. Anger is there to protect Riley’s rights.

    But by what right should Riley (or any of us) have Anger—or Sadness or Fear or Joy—when they exist for no apparent reason but to mirror reality through Riley’s semi-self-conscious brain? They are simply in control. It is emotion—not Riley—who in this movie primarily feels and thinks and does. Also curious in this arrangement is that, unlike in the case of Plato or Aristotle, Kant or Hume or Locke, in this film there is no reason. Here emotions are presented as a good thing—when, in our not-so-distant classical history, emotions were presented as unstable and destabilizing.

    Also important is that all of Riley’s emotions are purely reactive. They are simply responses to external stimuli, not the least of which are the emotions of her parents. This misplaced emphasis on externals is surprising, given the professed aim of the film: to look at human experience from the inside out.

    “There’s absolutely no reason for Riley to be happy right now,” states one emotion mater-of-factly to another.

    Every experience may be an opportunity for either joy or sadness. But the film makes it look as if we are controlled by emotions, and it is circumstances which control us through our emotional responses to them.

    Problem with the film: the film conflates joy with happiness and joy with love. These are not the same thing.

    Another problem with the film: even memories are cast as amenable to reordering, disposal and forgottenness.

    Our core memories shape our realities, which are presented as simply a reflection of our perceptions accumulated and understood over time. Our personalities are shaped by memories which influence our response to what we perceive as or experiences day-to-day. When Joy and Sadness go missing, everything goes haywire.

    Personality “Islands” are depicted as unstable; they shake and fall and crash to the ground.
    Imaginary friends like the elephant-teddy-bear Bing Bong are depicted as ridiculous and incredible.

    Abstract thought is depicted as imaginary (!!). (So much for the history of human experience, culture and civilization . . .)

    Ultimately, experiences are depicted as meaningless as soon as they are forgotten.

    Riley, through no fault of her own, is driven to react with anger and run away from home.

    The entirety of her personality is depicted as responsive and reactive—responsive to the emotions with which she is presented and reactive to the circumstances which she encounters.

    The idea is that giving Joy an inordinate place is unreality. All emotions are important and therefore to be valued and given an airing.

    In the end, Sadness DOES have a purpose. She helps Riley (and us) process life.
    There IS a moral to the story. Rather than trying to “fix” emotions, we should accept them and process them as they present themselves to us. (Perhaps this is why the tireless Joy is presented as a bit of a self-absorbed prick.)

    But if all emotions are equally valuable, why give priority to Joy? And if Joy is not given priority, we are opening ourselves up to a very Sad, Fearful, Angry and Disgusted alternate universe.

    Perhaps that encapsulates my feelings on the matter. Angry and Disgusted.

    When the plot resolves, it is only by coming to terms with the grief over her childhood hockey disappointments and her imaginary friend Bing Bong’s sacrifice through Sadness that Riley’s redemption and Joy’s return to the Control Center of the brain are made possible. Sadness has a part to play, after all.

    I do admit that it’s okay to feel. I do think that childhood memories play an important part in the formation of personality. And I do value the role of Sadness in the processing of these and other emotions. But I feel less Joy than Anger, less Sadness than Disgust as this film draws to a close.

    The assumption of the movie that troubles me the most is that emotions are presented as the primary processors of reality. Emotions are all there is. Imagination is nonsensical and problematic. There is no soul beyond the emotions—no reason to speak of. I do appreciate the film for its playfulness, creativity and colour. As a spectacle, it is appealing though not spectacular. And I do like the repetitive running joke about TripleDent gum . . .

    But this is not a children’s movie, not the adventure reel of delightful music and happy endings we have come to know and love. Only Sadness can bring Riley back to feeling. And therein lies a major flaw in the central message of the film—it is on the centrality of circumstance, not emotions, that our final focus is placed. The film ends convincing us less of the validity of emotions than of the pressures of circumstance. Joy does not win; Sadness does.

    In this sense the film is not a comedy.

    Nor is it an accurate representation of reality, inside or out.

    Liked by 1 person

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