This week’s #IFFReview is the latest Pixar feature-length animation, critiqued by Insight friend and guest blogger Peter Malone.
#IFFReview: film 15
Director: Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen
Over the past 15 years or so, the Pixar Studios – now associated with Disney – have stood out as the go-to studio for fine animation films. While they made their mark with the Toy Story series (films 1, 2 and 3), they had a series of successes, and Oscar wins and nominations, with films like Finding Nemo, The Invincibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up. Some of their productions have been slighter in recent years, especially Cars 2, but Inside Out should put them up there on top again.
The idea is rather original. What if we went inside the characters heads, identified some of the chief emotions, imagine what they might look like in cartoon form, how they operate in harmony with and in conflict with each other, determining the reactions of the character? In this case it is a young baby, Riley, whom we look at from the outside but then go inside her mind, discovering Joy, the most exuberant and exhilarating emotion.
But then babies cry! The emotion that emerges is Sadness, again a feminine voice, something of a sad sack, low on self-image and esteem, prone to blame herself for making the child unhappy. The screenwriters have decided on three other emotions: Fear, a really nervous type who wants to be over-protective, a male voice; Anger, a squashed looking character, also male; and Disgust, a somewhat petulant and arrogant female voice.
Each of the emotions has its own special colour. Joy is a bright yellow while Sadness is blue. Disgust is green, Fear is purple and Anger is definitely red!
As Riley grows up, we see each of the emotions influencing the young girl. When her loving parents move house, she gets upset, Joy and Sadness becoming lost – as if on another planet – while Fear, Anger and Disgust are in turmoil within her, even leading her to run away from, and catch a bus, petulant and angry with her parents.
In the meantime, the audience sees that Joy and Sadness are lost, trying to find their way back into Riley’s mind, and accompanied by her invisible childhood friend, Bingbang.
Joy has to come to realise that she just simply can’t eliminate Sadness from every human experience. Sadness is a necessary part of life and, when Joy is able to acknowledge this, trusting Sadness to have her influence, there is a possibility of some kind of recovery and harmony.
Which means that the film is a very nice allegory about human emotions, visualised entertainingly, all at work on a kind of inner computer to try to help the child’s growth but, squabbles arising, envy sometime prevailing, leading to enormous confusion.
The end of the film (as well as the initial parts of the final credits) are well worth seeing for laugh-aloud responses, seeing the emotions within the minds of Riley’s parents as, faces-painted, they go to support her at a hockey match. One of the funniest scenes is momentarily inside the mind of a very gawky boy who encounters Riley with the emotions running riot in his mind. There is also a schoolteacher, a frustrated bus driver – and the emotions within a dog and within a cat.
Obviously, plenty of room for an imaginative sequel, even a series.
Product links: #IFFReview: film #15 (UK only)
Film: Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen, Inside Out (2015), DVD issue 2015 (when released), Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black
Film: John Lasseter, Toy Story (1995), DVD issue 2010, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles
Film: John Lasseter, Ash Brannon and Lee Unrich, Toy Story 2 (1999), DVD issue 2010, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Film: Lee Unrich, Toy Story 3 (2010), DVD issue 2010, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Film: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, Finding Nemo (2003), DVD issue 2013, Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Film: Brad Bird, The Incredibles (2004), DVD issue 2005, Craig T Nelson, Samuel L Jackson, Holly Hunter
Film: John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, Cars (2006), DVD issue 2006, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman
Film: John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, Cars 2 (2011), DVD issue 2011, Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine
Film: Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava, Ratatouille (2007), DVD issue 2008, Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt
Film: Andrew Stanton, WALL-E (2008), DVD issue 2008, Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin
Film: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, Up (2009), DVD issue 2010, Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger