<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen. Starring the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
Inside Out starts off clichéd and simple minded enough but then takes a nice twist into a world that celebrates sadness and makes a place for it in our lives.
On a very basic level, Inside Out shows us emotions as characters in a person’s mind – in this case 11-year-old Riley – and how they affect our behaviour and train of thought. At first you think that some emotions like ‘joy’ are better to have but slowly you realise that it is our mix of emotions that makes us who we are and even ‘sadness’, ‘fear’ and ‘disgust’ can be good emotions to have. Thank god!
Mother (Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) have to move from Minnesota to San Francisco with their 11-year-old daughter Riley due to financial difficulties. At first, Joy (Amy Poehler) triumphs in making Riley adjust nicely to the shift, feeding her with lovely core memories and trying to make new ones for her. But eventually, Sadness (Phyllis Smith) overcomes Riley and then Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) follows through in making Riley run away from home.
What follows is a journey of the accidentally lost Joy and Sadness to get back to the ‘control room’ to save Riley. All the time Joy is trying to suppress Sadness’s effect on the environment in a desperate attempt to save Riley’s islands of ‘family’, ‘friendship’, ‘ice hockey’ and ‘goofiness’. But to no avail. The appearance of Riley’s childhood imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind) – a pink symbiosis of elephant, candy floss and cat – finally makes Joy realise an important truth.
It’s when Inside Out takes a turn for the darker side that interest levels begin to rise and the adults will engage in this interesting visual depiction of a child’s psyche. And we even get a humorous though somewhat two-dimensional view of an adult’s ‘emotions’ at play as well.
The film’s muti-coloured hues and ‘bubble burst memory’ balls are tantalising but the 3D really didn’t do much for me. What struck a chord was the realism of the emotions at play and the fact that it wasn’t all about ‘joy’. Disney and Pixar don’t shy away from tackling darker topics and sad issues now. Perhaps it is to appeal to the wider audience. The music by Michael Giacchino is lively at times and then haunting, particularly so in the pit of forgotten memories.
We don’t all have to be happy all the time. There is a place for sadness as long as we have family and friends to lean on.
PS: I did not, however, like the opening short ‘Lava’ about two volcanoes finding love with a cheesy song.