Inside Out review and trailer
Juggling poignant drama with visual pizzazz, Pixar's dazzlingly surreal and ambitious coming-of-age tale finds the animation house at the top its game and one step ahead of the competition
Inside Out is one of the more recent Disney Pixar films to hit our screens, and is another family classic for Christmas 2019 on the TV.
When is Inside Out on TV this Christmas?
Inside Out is on BBC One at 3pm on Saturday 28th December.
Is it any good? Do you have a review?
Pixar might have been out of sight for the past two years but they certainly haven’t been out of mind. For their latest masterpiece, the beloved animation company navigates through the brain control centre of Riley, an ice hockey-loving 11-year-old girl who is upset by her family’s move from rural Minnesota to bustling San Francisco.
The film premiered out of competition at the Cannes film festival to overwhelming praise – even hardened critics melt when confronted by the cineaste-approved Pixar brand – and is already raking it in at the US box office. It’s also well on the way to being regarded as a pinnacle of achievement on the scale of Wall-E, Toy Story and Up. It’s easy to see why. Co-directors Ronaldo Del Carmen and Pete Docter (who got the basic concept by observing his own daughter’s glumness) simplify the complexity of intellect in an easy-to-understand way.
Hard at work inside Riley’s cranium HQ are her anthropomorphically realised emotions: Joy (voiced by Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler); Sadness (Phyllis Smith); Fear (Bill Hader); Anger (Lewis Black); and Disgust (Mindy Kaling, star of E4’s The Mindy Project). Imagination is a theme park full of wild amusement rides. Dreams are made in a Hollywood-style film studio nearby – the blockbuster holdover being “I’m Falling for a Very Long Time into a Pit”. The Subconscious is all dark and sinister metaphor. Riley's character traits and interests are self-contained islands that have to be maintained. Trains of Thought connect each world together, while her memories are marbles, colour co-ordinated by associated emotional degrees: black moods, sunny disposition, green envy, etc.
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This dazzlingly surreal texture is neatly folded into what is essentially a uniquely slanted coming-of-age tale, in which Riley’s mixed emotions offer up boyfriend advice and help her through the everyday upheaval of adjusting to her new life in the big city as she nostalgically yearns for her past existence. It’s her first day at a new school that snaps every swirling feeling into sharp focus as a battle between Joy and Sadness relegate “core memories” to the Thought Dump, leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear to take control and cause Riley to contemplate running away from home.
The precision juggling of poignant drama with visual pizzazz is once more the disarming rocket fuel for Docter and Del Carmen’s literal head-trip, shaking up the clichés of the family-orientated animation genre and letting them fall in the quirkiest of places. Many will find the first five minutes charting Riley’s birth and the baby steps of her inner emotions as equally affecting as the montage at the start of Up or the restaurant critic’s food memories from Ratatouille. It’s the moving exploration of shared human experience that Pixar mines so perfectly; engaging adults while their children are enticed by a sight gag or a vividly resplendent Day-Glo image. The constantly changing headlines on Anger’s newspaper, the use of past animation styles at key junctures (even Hayao Miyazaki’s influence can be felt here), the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hitchcock homages and the absolutely brilliant closing sequence where other characters’ brains are delved into, are proof enough that Pixar’s attention to detail will always keep the studio ahead of the game.
Then there’s Bing Bong (Richard Kind), the once-cherished imaginary friend Riley hasn’t thought about in years. Dredged up from Riley’s distant childhood recollections, this soft-toy icon makes one last, and remarkably touching, play for her affections on his song-powered rocket, before giving up the effort in the face of her crumbling innocence as she embarks on the even bumpier road of entering teenage territory. You see, in order to restore Riley’s charm and wellbeing, Sadness must take a far greater role in the future. And when was the last time you saw that message in a cartoon?
Only Pixar can make these sorts of ambitious notions work so well, and they do so by blending meaningful and multilayered storytelling with clever jokes and plenty of heartfelt moments. Pixar may not own the copyright on animation excellence but they never fail to locate the sweet spot between stylish smartness and tear-jerking goofiness, and Inside Out is another tremendously entertaining triumph in that refined regard.