PIXAR have placed an emotional core in recent years with Up and Toy Story 3 benefiting from such a trait and their latest offering, Inside Out, though not as grand as their previous efforts, works generally for the same ideology.
Twelve-year old Riley has a happy life living with her parents in Minnesota, but all that changes when her family announce they are moving away to San Francisco. Inside the ‘headquarters’ of her mind are a series of walking, talking emotions each representing Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and the catalyst for the subsequent voyage the film undertakes, Sadness.
As the unsatisfactory elements of her new life emerge, such as being away from friends and missing the things loved about Minnesota, an incident whilst transporting emotions results in Sadness and Joy being trapped in various sections outside the mind’s headquarters. With Anger, Disgust and Fear putting in place the disillusionment and varying emotions that are designed upon Riley, Joy and Sadness undertake the quest through her past memories to return back and restructure her progressively rebellious behaviour.
As with previous Pixar films, the usages of sequences that are performed with humorous and moving natures are clear to see. The director of this, Pete Docter, last directed Up, which showed Pixar entering an unusual detailing of genuinely emotional segments whilst proving to be a funny work overall. This achieves that in general, but does lack thorough engagement that previous works from Pixar have had no problem in expressing.
There are elements of humour which the film demonstrates very well at times with the funniest segments coming from the show-stealing Anger whose attire suggests an animated version of Michael Douglas in Falling Down.
A key scene demonstrates a tad uncomfortable but still humorous and clever sequence with Anger setting the emotional side of Riley as she engages in a gradually-worsening dinner time argument with her parents.
The enjoyment of viewing the Anger emotion does prove slightly detrimental though to the other four emotions, as none of the other four carry the same notion of entertaining in the way that Anger does. For instance, when thinking of the Disgust character, one feels that not enough is done with the emotion in a memorable manner apart from the opening when Riley’s stance for broccoli as a baby is detailed.
The film is good on an emotional level and there is no denying that the emotional core is handled well as the happy-go-lucky Riley is progressively reduced to a status of being more depressed as the film continues. The scenes where Riley breaks down in front of her new classmates as she dictates how she misses her past life and her frustration as her friend tells her online about how she already found a replacement for her hockey team place her as one whose sympathetic plight successfully remains throughout.
As the film enters its second half, there is a sudden notion that the viewer is waiting for something wholly entertaining to take place and it feels as though the film peaks in the first half. As Joy and Sadness are seen travelling through what could be described as a labyrinth of memories, there are moments that are enjoyable like when, along with Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong, they are seen as dimensional versions of themselves.
But as the quest to get back progresses, the lack of a whole usage of appropriate energy for the sequences is apparent and by the time the film reaches its conclusion, there is an element where one is left wondering if that really is it.
Incidentally, a set of scenes which document the various activities behind the minds of various characters, such as the parents, does comes across as too distracting and not really making that much of an impact on the story as a whole.
For the record, Inside Out is mostly entertaining and combines a relatively steady use of humour and emotion, although one would prefer not to put this on a top 3 Pixar films list.