Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley's main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
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★★★★★ review by Tasha Robinson on Letterboxd
The comparison between this Pixar film's basic concept — a look inside an 11-year-old girl's head, where her emotions push for dominance — and the 1980s sitcom Herman's Head has been made many times. But it's not the concept, it's what Pixar vet and Up director Pete Docter and his team do with it. This is a speedy, often hilariously funny action-adventure, but it's also a mighty empathetic, sweet attempt to understand what sadness means, and why it's an important part of life, and how emotions interact with behavior. It's a smart film, and sometimes a tear-jerkingly emotional one, and it's so much better than the trailers suggest.
★★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
Perhaps the greatest brushstroke in Inside Out is the idea of evoking memory as orbs, for their potency is rounded and seemingly endless. They're continuously in motion and they end as soon as they begin; fragmented bits and pieces colliding with the sheer force of the feeling behind the context of the moment, the smile, the incident, the time of day. It's conceptually audacious in and of itself, but to visualize the permanent loss of memory through fading orbs of gloomy color gently bellowing into nothingness is the sort of stuff dreams are made of. It's why I go to the movies - they paint newer, more inventive pictures for me.
★★★★★ review by DirkH on Letterboxd
This film's heart is so huge it is simply overwhelming.
Whenever I watch a film that has gotten the amount of praise Inside Out has gotten, my knee jerk reaction is to keep it at a distance so the hype/expectations won't get in the way too much. Inside Out simply won't let you do that. From the opening sequence and monologue it grabs a firm hold and just won't let go.
When I heard of the premise of Pixar's latest film I wasn't sold and when I saw the trailer I just couldn't see it work. It felt like a gimmicky thing that wouldn't work as a feature film.
Boy was I wrong.
The beautiful script balances the laughs and the cries brilliantly and deftly dances around the saccharine pitfalls of shallow emotions and cheap kitchen sink wisdoms. Instead it gives us a genuine and heartfelt look into the mind of a kid on that fragile border between being a kid and entering puberty. It gives voice and substance to the inner workings of our minds and does so with refreshing simplicity and flourishes of inspired creativity.
Whenever a film wants to put forth a message I can get annoyed as I don't feel that is the purpose of any form of art. Allowing us to explore and find meaning, sure, but bluntly stating what we should take away from it usually doesn't sit well with me, even when something could be considered a movie for kids. My fear was that this sentiment would prevail while watching Inside Out as its message is crystal clear. Confronted with that big heart that wants to tell a simple, yet effective, story with a genuinely sincere core concern and respect for its audience, those fears melt away like snow before the sun. Instead of moralizing, it provides a possible solution, a means to understand universal concerns of the target audience and bittersweet recognition for the adults that tagged along.
Inside Out is a phenomenal film that uses the potential of the medium to its fullest effect finding genuine emotion in the sincere treatment of its subject matter. Many filmmakers can learn a thing or two from what Inside Out achieves here.
★★★★★ review by Gonzo on Letterboxd
Is it better than Mad Max: Fury Road?
Agh... Inside Out is a great film, but I love Fury Road more. It's close though. Isn't it a great year for movies?
I don't know. The trailer looks childish and dumb.
It's not dumb at all. In fact, Inside Out is Pixar's most audacious effort yet. A lot of care and thought clearly went into making the movie. The orbs, core memories, islands of personality, abstract, dream productions, reality distortion filters, subconscious prison, train of thought, memory dump, long term... Brilliant stuff.
Is it funny?
Yes. Lots of great lines and comedic bits that kids and adults alike will enjoy. The two funniest parts come at the end ("GIRL! GIRL! GIRL!") and during the closing credits. I don't want to spoil it—it's hilarious—just remember not to leave the theaters right away.
Is it sad?
Oh-ho-ho, yes. If you cried on the start of Up and the end of Toy Story 3, you're going to need some Kleenex, because the ending will leave you all choked up and reduced to a sobbing mess. I 100% guarantee it.
Who's your favorite emotion?
Joy. Definitely Joy. She's awesome.
Who's your least favorite?
I don't know. I kind of like them all. Sadness can get a bit annoying, but she turns out to be a great character with some of the film's best moments involving her. If I had to choose, I guess I'd pick Disgust, just because she isn't given much to do.
That Bing Bong character seems shady. He's the bad guy, right?
There aren't any "bad guys" in this one. Bing Bong gives off a Lotso vibe at first, but he's really a nice guy. I could actually see him becoming a favorite of some moviegoers.
What's the short film before the movie? Is it good?
It's called Lava, and it's a cute story about a volcano looking for love. Stunning visuals, nice story, catchy song. That song will be stuck in your head long after you've seen the movie.
How's the 3D?
Go see it in 2D. Lava has much better 3D.
How was the audience's reaction?
They loved it. There was lots of laughing and sniffling, and everybody gave a nice applause at the end. Best response out of all the films I've seen so far this year. (Better than the Thursday midnight showing of box-office juggernaut Jurassic World and the three times I saw Fury Road).
What Pixar movie is it closer to?
It's like Toy Story, only instead of toys, it's emotions. Joy and Sadness are like Woody and Buzz and Riley is like Andy.
Joy and Sadness or Woody and Buzz?
Woody and Buzz, no contest.
Riley or Andy?
I have to go with Riley. She's just so adorable and relatable. Better character development too. As someone who moved around a lot as a child, her character hit home for me.
Toy Story or Inside Out?
Ooh, this one's tough. As much as I love the original Toy Story (the movie is a huge part of my childhood), I give the upper hand to Inside Out. I may be a bit biased though, since I love films that deal with memories (such as Marienbad, After Life, Eternal Sunshine, Inception, and Synecdoche).
How does Inside Out stack up to Pixar's other films?
I'd rank it in their top 3, behind Toy Story 3 and Up. Yup, it's that good.
So, does this mean Pixar is officially back?
Oh, they're back.
It's pretty much a lock to win Best Animated Film. Strong chances too to score a Best Picture nod.
What's the verdict?
Inside Out is Pixar's best film since Toy Story 3. Brilliant, imaginative, inventive, and magical, Inside Out pushes all the right buttons and evokes a wonderful spectrum of emotions. For everyone who was a kid and is a kid, this one's for you. Essential viewing.
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
When I have kids, I'm gonna make damn sure they get that Chinatown reference.
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