Disclaimer: I was invited to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in May, where I saw partial screenings of the film, Inside Out, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and a presentation from the producer. The conference provided discounted lodging and stay at Walt Disney World, but participants were required to pay their way. Additionally, I was given 4 tickets to screen the film in order to facilitate this review. I am not required to write a positive review; all opinions are my own.
One day on the campus of Pixar Animation Studios, Pete Docter wondered what in the world was going on in the head of his 11-year-old daughter. (Parents of 11+ year olds… can you relate? 😉) A few conversations and five years later, Docter, producer Jonas Rivera, and the creative geniuses at Pixar have done quite a good job of answering that question.
Sure, it’s not an exact science. In a presentation at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration though, Rivera told us how much research went into the film – so it’s not entirely fiction, either.
Riley is a young girl whose family moves from Minnesota to California when she was 11. As she deals with the emotions of the move – and of growing up – we get a front row view of those emotions growing, too. In the onset of the film, we are introduced to Joy. She is present in Riley’s mind from birth, and tends to be the lead emotion as Riley’s childhood is a happy one. Joy introduces us to the other emotions in Headquarters:
Anger is passionate about making sure things are fair and just. Fear keeps us safe. Disgust helps us steer clear of poison (real or social).
And then there’s Sadness. Like most of us at one point or another in life, Joy wonders why Sadness really exists at all.
The film is laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are endearing and so very relatable; we all have them in our heads, after all! What sets this film apart, though, is how smart it is. Throughout the movie we see how Riley’s memories are formed, and how the memories and emotions make her who she is. The film talks about the subconscious, abstract thought, and psyche – all while delicately balancing those heavy topics with light-hearted fun and plenty of laughs and entertainment for the viewers too little to know there are heavier topics at play. Therein may be the most important part of the film – that viewers of all ages will have the opportunity to grow by watching it, but families will as well. Already in my home and that of dozens of others whom I’ve talked with, the characters of Inside Out are helping put a dialogue to the confusing landscape that is our emotions.
The voice casting is perhaps the most brilliant ensemble in any animated movie I’ve seen to date. Amy Poehler (Joy), Bill Hader (Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Lewis Black (Anger), and Phyllis Smith (Sadness) perfectly portray their respective emotions. In the same presentation, Jonas Rivera talked at length about how carefully they worked to make Joy unendingly positive without being annoying, as well as what thought went into each of the other emotions’ personalities and dialogues.
Beyond the storyline, dialogue, and themes, Inside Out is just stunningly beautiful. Bright colors, fantastical settings, and creative choices regarding how the emotions move and “glow” all make it a movie you can’t take your eyes off of, and can’t get enough of long after you’ve seen it.
We will be heading to the theaters Friday to see it again. We had the wonderful opportunity to see a 10-minute preview and then 2/3 of the movie in May, plus the full screening last week – but not a single moment of what we have seen, even multiple times, has lost its wonder. Besides – seeing the movie again will give me another chance to say hello to my favorite character, Bing Bong. But to get to know Bing Bong more, you’ll just have to check out Inside Out in a theater near you 😉
Stay tuned for more in-depth discussion of the film on the Delightful Life podcast!
If you’ve seen it, who was your favorite character? 🙂
Photos provide by Disney.