Sunday, June 21, 2015

"Inside Out" Is A Disney Pixar Movie That Gets Inside Your Head

**Disclaimer: I attended an advance screening of INSIDE OUT as a guest of Walt Disney Studios. The opinions in this post are honest and my own**
My little girl and I recently had a daddy-daughter night out on the town to grab a bite to eat and check out the newest Disney PIXAR animated feature film INSIDE OUT.   This film takes its audience on an emotional journey - you see the primary characters are the emotions of an 11 year old girl named Riley.  From the control room inside Riley's mind 5 emotions ( Joy - voiced by Amy Poehler,  Fear - voiced by Bill Hader, Anger - voiced by Lewis Black, Disgust - voiced by Mindy Kaling & Sadness - voiced by Phyliss Smith) steer the girl through all the obstacles life throws her way both literally and figuratively.  This movie was inspired by the emotional changes that Director Pete Docter observed his daughter go through as she matured from a young girl to a tween during the time he was directing the movies Monsters, Inc. and Up.  INSIDE OUT opened in theaters on June 19, 2015 and features many moments that both parents and their kids can relate to.  I was impressed that this is a very original movie with a fresh approach to its stories as too many Hollywood productions lately seem to be regurgitating material from past works.  INSIDE OUT takes the road less taken and establishes its own memorable path to audiences' hearts.

Disney PIXAR has developed a tradition of thrilling audiences with delightful short films before their feature presentations and INSIDE OUT is no exception to that legacy with LAVA.  I have to admit that I had forgotten about this and was a little perplexed at first on what a singing volcano had to do with the premise of INSIDE OUT before I realized that this was the traditional short proceeding the main movie. Ooops!  My six year old daughter just adored LAVA with its bright animations and Hawaiian lullaby inspired soundtrack.  When it looked like there may not be a happy ending she looked so distraught and then when things worked out in the end she giggled continuously with a huge smile on her face until INSIDE OUT began.

Riley (and her 5 emotions) seem to have a perfect and content life as the film begins.  Then Riley's family picks up and moves across the country from Minnesota to San Francisco and things start to get all out of wack.  Sadness starts to have a major role in the control room for reasons that none of the emotions can understand, including Sadness herself, so they try to isolate her because everyone wants Riley to be happy not sad about the changes in her surroundings and life.  In a tussle about whether Riley's core memories should be classified as joyous or sad, the emotions accidentally flush them away to the far reaches of her mind where they may be lost forever.  Joy and Sadness must leave the comfort zone of the brain's control room to find them and hopefully restore these core memories to their rightful place.  The adventures that ensue take Joy and Sadness throughout Riley's mind visiting places like Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought, and Dream Productions.  While Joy and Sadness are venturing through the inner recesses of Riley's mind, that leaves Anger, Disgust, and Fear running the show when it comes to Riley's interactions in the real world...and that does not go smoothly at all for anyone.

While the 5 emotions are billed as the stars of the show, my daughter and I both agree that the best character and our favorite part of the movie was Bing Bong.  Joy and Sadness stumble upon Riley's childhood imaginary friend wandering around in her long term memory trying to avoid being dumped into the forgotten memories grave yard by the workers who determine what needs to be stored to remember later and what can be tossed away as a forgotten moment.  Hey who can't love a creature that is part elephant, half teddy bear, and a little bit cheshire cat while also being made out of cotton candy!  In the end it is Bing Bong that saves the day and helps the emotions learn through their journey that joy and sadness are two sides of the same coin when it comes to helping steer Riley through the memorable moments in life. Joy can lead to sadness and sadness can lead to joy with both emotions playing a role in keeping Riley's overall life healthy and happy.

Just like starting out the movie with a short film is a Disney PIXAR tradition, so is subtly placing easter eggs throughout the movie.  Easter eggs are intentional inside jokes or hidden messages that are placed within movies.  For example, A113 was the graphic design classroom at California Institute of Arts where PIXAR honchos like John Lassetter and Brad Bird went to school.  A113 has been incorporated into every PIXAR feature film including INSIDE OUT.  According to Pete Doctor A113 just happens to be Riley's class room number at her new school in San Fran.

As you are watching the movie keep an eye out for pizza trucks, PIZZA PLANET trucks to be specific.  First introduced in Toy Story, Pizza Planet trucks tend to pop up in PIXAR movies.  According to the movie's director this truck appears in three different shots and should be visible to fans who search for it.  I have to say I totally missed it so feel free to share with us where it appears if you catch site of it in the movie.

Also PIXAR has a habit of previewing upcoming characters from upcoming movies.  For example, in Up, there were scenes that showed Lotso Huggin Bear who later appeared in Toy Story 3 and Fin McMissile who later appears in Cars 2.  For INSIDE OUT, Doctor has mentioned that audiences can catch a glimpse of Arlo who is the lead character in the upcoming movie The Good Dinosaur.  So just a few things to keep an eye out for when watching INSIDE OUT.

The one downside to INSIDE OUT was that it wasn't the type of PIXAR movie that parents can take their whole family to go see knowing children of any age would love the show.  While there isn't content that is overly violent, scary or graphic in nature to make it inappropriate for younger children, I found that my six year old just didn't get most of the humor and jokes found within it as they were over her head for understanding what was going on so this may not be the best movie to take younger children to.  I thought Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong trying to escape a furnace that will turn them into abstract thoughts was very hilarious and creative but I've also taken college level art classes too getting more of a meaning on jokes like these compared to a Kindergartener.  My daughter told me she LIKED this movie but felt she just didn't LOVE it in the same way she does Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., and Toy Story which she will watch over and over and over again. 

While the show is very creative and original over all, I was also a little disappointed that the ending was just a little too similar to the conclusion of another recent Walt Disney Studios movie Big Hero Six. This movie really was a roller coaster of emotions for both its characters and the audience so you may want to bring some tissues with you.  It seemed as everyone around us was in tears as the movie was reaching its conclusion.  This being said, that doesn't make it a bad movie just don't go into it expecting it to be entirely a feel good humorous comedy.

While INSIDE OUT didn't become my favorite Disney PIXAR movie, I did find it enjoyable to watch from my own adult perspectives.  If you have tweens and teens at home I'd recommend taking them to go see it for a family outing to the movie theater.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have a good time together.

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