Pixar have consistently delivered some of the greatest animated family movies of the last 20 years. I say family, as not only are these aimed at youngsters, but they also charm adults as well. We have had movies about fish, toys, monsters, cars, balloons and bugs. Now they are going inside your head – literally.
For those who have not seen the trailers or the adverts, the film is centred around five emotions in young girl Riley’s head. These characters represent Sadness, Joy, Fear, Disgust and Anger, all emotions we are familiar with – in fact everyone in the film has these emotions (no more).
However, Riley has a problem as the world she has always known is changing and she’s being forced to uproot and move with her family. This has ramifications on her well-being, with her emotions attempting to guide her through the many changes. Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) is at the at the helm of the control centre that is Riley’s mind, trying to balance the other emotions, while ensuring that Riley’s life is full of happy memories. And in Joy’s world there can be no sadness.
After a mishap Joy and Sadness are ejected from the control room, leaving Disgust, Fear and Anger in control of Riley’s well-being, which, as you can imagine, turns an otherwise cheery and happy Riley into a moody young girl, whose world seems to crumble around her. In the meantime Joy and Sadness try to get back into the nerve centre, whilst coming across earworms, imaginary friends and abstract thought, as well as dealing with forgotten memories and the like.
The journey all the characters go on is quite touching and familiar to us all. Indeed, at times I was transported back to my childhood. The writing is sharp, the animation is very clever and all the characters/emotions are well realised. However, my problem with this film was that at times I felt at times like I was watching Tinkerbell’s adventures in Candy Crush land, and I got a bit bored.
Like Minions before it – I feel it lost direction, Minions would have been a slicker film if it had not included the new villain and concentrated more on the Minion’s journey through time looking for their villain, just like Inside Out could have been sharper if it concentrated more on the interactions with Riley and her surroundings, with the use of her emotions guiding her.
I also wondered why Riley’s emotions were mixed sex, rather than all the other characters which appeared to have unisex emotions? Was this to help balance out the audience for the film, to ensure it targeted a young male audience as opposed to predominantly a younger female one?
Except for the above, this is a very accessible film for all with a perfect happy ending – as expected. However, this not my favourite Pixar film. In fact, I found the short supporting the main feature – Lava – to be a delightful and sad, romantic, musical number, which delivered more for me personally.
Reviewer: Stephen Sclater