Inside Out is a Pixar film. I don’t just mean that it was made by Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville California, as the credits dutifully remind us, but that it is a Pixar film in the same way that Toy Story and Up were Pixar films. Inside Out joins the Pixar ranks as a non-derivative, non-sequel, new IP film that creates its own expectations and drives itself. If Inside Out’s success measures up to its hype, it will not be because a previous Inside Out came before it, nor because it has princesses (it doesn’t), musical numbers (it doesn’t), or any otherwise common stereotypes depicted in modern filmmaking. Inside Out, breaks the mold, just as Toy Story and Up did before it.
Inside Out stars Riley Anderson’s emotions. While the trailers seem to indicate that more on-screen time might be devoted to Mr. and Mrs. Anderson’s emotions, the trailer cuts are essentially all the time they get. Riley gets screen time, but in my honest opinion, not enough. While Inside Out does a brilliant job of portraying her emotions, a few extra lines of dialog or reaction on the part of Riley would have really added to the effect. Overall, this is a very, very minor nitpick in contrast to the brilliant execution of the concept of showing Riley’s emotions. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust make an excellent cast, with Riley’s memories acting as both exposition and backstory for the overarching narrative that leads to the “emotional breakdown.”
The “emotional breakdown” in question starts due to a combination of emotional stress and a change in Riley’s life that leads to Joy and Sadness leaving “headquarters,” resulting in those emotions being cut off for the majority of the film. The events that follow are relatable, realistic, and emotionally heart pounding as a result. Riley is eleven years old, and that’s about the “minimum age” required to watch Inside Out for the full effect. Younger children will definitely miss a lot of the humor, and the events depicted in Inside Out can become dramatically harrowing at times. On the other end of the spectrum, however, Inside Out, like Up, works well at any age above Riley’s own age.
Inside Out is stunning, visually impressive, and above all else, an emotional journey that is both relatable and understandable. Riley Anderson and her emotions are an impressive cast of characters, and the story they tell is simply phenomenal.
Inside Out isn’t just a Pixar film, it’s a Pixar Quality Pixar film.