Inside Out Is Still An Iconic Classic At Nine Years

Pictured (L-R): Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Joy in INSIDE OUT. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Inside Out is Pixar’s groundbreaking animated film from 2015 that vividly depicts the emotions governing the human mind.

The film’s release came started a new streak for the studio. One year earlier in 2014, Pixar did not release a film. They more than made up for it in 2015 with the release of both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. What they did with this film? It was the mind-blowing stuff that just blows the rest of their filmography. I know Up is a Best Picture nominee but Inside Out is one of the best Pixar films ever. Both films have Pete Docter at the helm so maybe he just has the magic touch! Obviously, my feelings could change with the upcoming release of Inside Out 2. But in watching the film again on Monday night, it only reinforces it. As revolutionizing as the film may be, it is surprising that I’ve only watched it twice. No, I do not know why I haven’t watched more.

Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias) is an 11-year-old living hockey-loving Minnesotan. Well, until her family decides to move to San Francisco. Not surprisingly, Pete Docter’s daughter serves as the inspiration for Riley. Anyway, Riley’s mind is governed by five Emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black). While you might think the film is Riley’s story, it is not. No, the main character is Joy. She was there from the minute that Riley was born and has been at the controls ever since. The other emotions would later enter the picture but after a mishap involving Sadness and the core memories at Headquarters, Riley becomes devoid of personality when the Islands of Personality shut down.

Before we know it, Joy and Sadness are swept away and find themselves at Riley’s Long Term Memory. This area of Riley’s mind is also home to Imagination Land, Abstract Thought, Dream Productions, and Subconscious. In their search to get back, they find Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind). He does his best to help them. Long forgotten by Riley, he just hangs out in Long Term Memory until the day comes when he’s truly a forgotten memory and then it’s off to the memory dump. As far as Riley, she is no longer happy and seeks to run away because she is missing joy and sadness. As for the emotions, Joy learns so much and realizes just how important Sadness is to the larger operation. It’s all apart of growing up. Take Joy and Sadness out of the equation and you have one unhappy pre-teen.

The film’s San Francisco is somewhat different from the real San Francisco. Riley’s hockey rink just happens to be standing in the same spot as the Walt Disney Family Museum  in the Presidio. Meanwhile, her father (Kyle MacLachlan) works for a company called Brang–a name that’s basically made for the tech scene in San Francisco. A number of other Pixar easter eggs are in the film, too.

Behind the scenes, the filmmakers do their homework. They spoke with scientists, neurologists, psychologists and other experts to get an idea of how the mind works. Their researched helped to decide which emotions would control the Headquarters control center. There are plenty more emotions that do not feature in this film–I’ll be curious to see how many more are added for the sequel. I’m purposely staying away from trailers and other promo spots if I can help it.

Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino reunites with his Up director to deliver the score. He delivers a score that goes for atmospheric rather than the traditional film score. It’s a score that–surprise, surprise–must feel emotional even when it does go to many places musically.

In a lot of ways, Inside Out is an adventure film even if it’s not typical for the adventure genre. The film’s heart is what sets it miles above the Pixar catalog even though it has the charm and humor that one expects from a Pixar movie. Nine years later, Bing Bong is still one of the standout characters–Kind even knew it was a special film when he was watching footage on a trip to California with his family.

DIRECTOR: Pete Docter
CO-DIRECTOR: Ronnie del Carmen
SCREENWRITERS: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
CAST: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan

Disney-Pixar released Inside Out in theaters on June 19, 2015. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.