This was possibly the best animation Pixar - or any other studios for that matter - has done in a long time (since WALL-E, in my opinion). It was insanely smart with so many layers that an adult can appreciate, yet so expertly geared towards the young. There was joy, sadness, drama, pathos, tears, lots of laughter and even fear and disgust. It really ran through the gamut of feelings, In short, Brilliant!
But before we talk more about Inside Out, some time should be spared for the animation short tagged in front of it. Lava is another triumph for Pixar. Like most of their shorts, the concept is simple, but what was different here was the simplicity in its expression of love. A simple Hawaiian song that in its 7 minutes run time managed to make us smile, sing along, felt sad, then hopeful and lastly happiness. It was a great foreshadowing to the main movie itself.
Now, the film itself. Inside Out is so simple in its premise: What's goes on inside someone's head? The execution itself is simply complex. There were so many ideas and concepts that Pete Docter and company touched on that could have been further explored. The mind is really such a complex system but kudos to Docter and Co. for finding a way to make it so accessible to the young minds out there.
The story itself was also very simple. Imagine a Thelma & Louise in your head with two opposing characters. That was what this film was essentially about. A road trip for 2 gals and the interesting people and places that go to and meet along the way.
One of the best thing about the movie was how it did not shy away from a difficult theme: emotions are crucial and they formed us for who we are, even negative emotions like sadness and anger are important to the development of our personality. Life is about being happy, but sometimes we need to embrace the duality of our emotions to reach that state.
There were so many moments in the film that I wished we could have spent more time to explore: Abstract Thinking, Imagination Land, The Subconscious, Memory Dump, the interactions of the emotions in different persons and why are Riley's emotions of both gender?
That is not to say that this film has no drawbacks, but bearing in mind that the target audience are a lot younger, we can give it a wider pass. Small plot contrivances are unavoidable. This film could have gone a lot darker and the adult/cynical side of me wished it had dipped more than just the little toe into it. Sadness had so much more potential to explore. Why "things" happen around her.
A road trip between Sadness and Fear would have been a dark, and interesting, journey to take.
Similarly, kudos to Amy Poehler and Phyillis Smith as Joy and Sadness. Their voice work really helped to bring alive the characters. Richard Kind was also outstanding as Bing Bong. The rest of the emotions: Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader and Lewis Black were great too and had their moments.
Michael Giacchino scored the film and such a step up from his previous two works for Jurassic World and Tomorrowland. The main theme was simple yet elicited a certain child-like gaiety that resonated with core theme of the movie.
There are so many potentials for sequels! Let's hope Disney/Pixar don't screw this up.