“Congratulations San Francisco, you’ve ruined pizza! First the Hawaiians, and now you!” yells Anger, reacting to the sight of slices of pizza with broccoli.
With the exception of 2011’s Cars 2, the films made by Pixar Animation Studios represent high quality animation AND storytelling (the same could be said of the films of Studio Ghibli with the exception of 2006’s Tales From Earthsea). Pixar’s last release was the Monsters, Inc. prequel Monsters University (which came out in 2013 and was surprisingly not nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar). 2015 brings us not one but two new Pixar releases. This Fall sees the release of Peter Sohn’s The Good Dinosaur, while this past June saw the release of Pete Docter’s Inside Out. Pre-release buzz had hailed it as the most original Pixar film in years. Combined with promising trailers, that was enough to get me excited about the film. I saw Inside Out on the big screen a few months ago, and it was such a joy to watch from start to finish.
2015’s Inside Out follows the five emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust) of a young girl as they try to navigate her life after her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Docter assembled a game cast that includes Amy Poehler (as Joy), Phyllis Smith (as Sadness), Lewis Black (as Anger), Bill Hader (as Fear), Mindy Kaling (as Disgust), Kaitlyn Dias (as Riley), Richard Kind (as Bing Bong), Diane Lane (as Riley’s mother), Kyle MacLachlan (as Riley’s father), Paula Poundstone (as Forgetter Paula), Bobby Moynihan (as Forgetter Bobby), Paula Pell (as Dream Director), Dave Goelz (as Subconscious Guard Frank), Frank Oz (as Subconscious Guard Dave), John Ratzenberger (as Fritz), Carlos Alazraqui (as the Brazilian helicopter pilot), and Rashida Jones (as Cool Girl’s emotions). Poehler is perfectly cast as Joy, bringing a continuous can-do attitude to the character (a little similar to her Leslie Knope character from TV’s Parks and Recreation). She plays well off Smith, whose Sadness comes across as a much more depressed version of her Phyllis character from the U.S. version of The Office). Kind is also memorable as Riley’s former imaginary friend Bing Bong.
The screenplay by Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley explores how a family’s cross-country move to a new home affects them. It also provides an adventurous road movie (one that takes place in the mind) and fascinating representations of emotions, as well as emphasizes the necessity of balanced and stable emotions. Pixar’s computer animation is stunning once again (I liked the approach on animating the emotion characters, giving each of them a kind of sparkling aura). The art style Docter goes for in the film recalls the work of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. The world created inside Riley’s mind is amazing; Ralph Eggleston’s production design creates a unique world built on the rules of the mind where anything can happen (it’s hard to pick one particular location outside of Headquarters as my favorite; I liked them all so much). Michael Giacchino (who won an Oscar for Docter’s previous film, Up) delivers another wonderful, emotional score filled with suspenseful and dramatic music that never wears out its welcome. Pete Docter’s Inside Out is another excellent Pixar production that continues to display their incredible computer animation while providing they haven’t run out of original ideas. It is a film to be enjoyed by people of all ages.