Film Reviews

SO IT GOES – <i>Inside Out</i> (2015)

SO IT GOES – Inside Out (2015)

Sarah Gough-Piazza

August 12th, 2015


Pixar Studios has created some of the most imaginative and visually stimulating animation in the modern era. From Toy Story to Up, Pixar never fails to revive the childlike imagination and awe of the animated movie. Due to this, walking into the theater to see Pixar’s latest movie Inside Out, I expected a familiar experience. I was wrong.

Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter, tells the story of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a young girl whose world is turned upside down after being forced to move from her Minnesota hometown to San Francisco with her parents. However, while the plot is seen through Riley’s perspective, the plot focuses not on her, but rather the inner-workings of her brain, achieved with the personification of her many emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These characters completely control the way in which Riley thinks, acts, and remembers. However, things become chaotic when the “ringleader of the group,” Joy (Amy Poehler), and her “less popular counterpart,” Sadness (Phyllis Smith), accidentally become separated from the “Headquarters,” and must get back before the imbalance of emotions Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) make Riley lose sight of herself and the beauty of her surroundings.

Inside Out does what no other Pixar movie has done before, touching on both themes that appeal to the younger audience while also exploring more mature ideas. It’s obvious from the beginning of the film that the move from Minnesota to San Francisco is extremely hard for Riley. Without Joy to counteract the stress and anxiety that comes with moving, especially for a young girl, she becomes distant and uninterested from the things that defined her.

This sort of depression is unlike anything we have seen from a Pixar movie, something raw and new. It’s a complete surprise to see something that one would not commonly associate with youth culture, but done in a way that didn’t weigh down the humor and youthful charm of the movie. Rather, it makes the character of Riley and her emotions more three-dimensional and relatable. Instead of the pre-teen girl having a tantrum from moving, as what in any other movie would be associated with her character, she becomes a realistic persona of the depression and anxiety that comes from change, even though she is extremely young.

Although the character of Riley and her emotions are a refreshing take on the classic animated movie, the character of Joy is not. Arguably the protagonist of the film, Joy is exactly as you would imagine: charismatic, energetic, and extremely vibrant. However, as the film progresses, Joy maintains those same character traits, even though she is supposed to be the counterpart for Sadness, who throughout the movie evolves in character and begins to realize a sense of self-worth. Joy’s constant need to be the center of attention becomes annoying within the first twenty minutes, obnoxious by the half, and exhausting when the movie finishes. Her only redeeming quality is her dedication to make Riley happy, something that the audience roots for. Besides that, Joy’s inability to exist in a world that isn’t exactly how she wants it to be only makes her character one less appealing to the audience. It’s only when the movie is about to end that Joy changes minimally, allowing herself to step off her high horse and begin to see Sadness not as a lesser being to her, but rather someone of worth.

However, this change in character comes at the wrong time, as if the writers felt that the audience would start to turn on Joy, rendering the need for her personality to evolve inevitable. This, once again, makes Joy the center of attention through the use of forced, non-genuine change.

Otherwise, Inside Out is one of the best Pixar movies to come out of the studio in a long time. Not only does it appeal to the intended adolescent audience with its quirky one-liners and humorous animated characters, but it is also a movie that can be really enjoyed by the rest of the audience too. Inside Out is a fresh representation of the commonly overlooked inner emotions of youth, all the while keeping the childlike charm of the animated movie.

Inside Out continues its run at Regal Valley River Center Stadium 15 and Cinemark 17. Click here for showtimes.

Sarah Gough-Piazza is a senior at the University of Oregon studying comparative literature with a concentration in German and creative writing. She spends her time obsessively browsing YouTube and Tumblr, and has come to the conclusion that she likes dogs more than humans. So It Goes is an irregular column in which she provides critical analyses of films screening locally.

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