Thursday, 30 July 2015

Inside Out Review

It's been a while since Pixar has truly come out of the gate swinging. The last classic I can remember is Toy Story 3.

Since that sequel capped off a trilogy of excellent films about childhood and growing up, the studio has mostly been resting on its laurels. Yes, Monster's University was a fun movie with a good message, but it wasn't a classic, and was all but ignored by everybody. Brave was a disappointment, and the less said about the Cars franchise and all it's spin-offs the better.

Inside Out is the first film from director Pete Docter since Up came out to rattle the animation world with it's whimsical adventuring spirit and surprising depth. The best part is that it hardly feels like any time at all since his last masterpiece was unleashed on us.

This is a movie about emotions. Do they really control us, or are they just another part of who we are? In the process the film also tackles adolescence, growing up, alienation, loneliness, parents, friendship, and family. What we get is a movie that hits with the same hammer of depth Up did, only from a different angle.

The story stars preteen Riley as she moves to a new city with her parents and must relearn to adjust in a world she thought she once understood. In the tale we see the point of view from her emotions who are just as confused as she is. In the process both Riley and the emotions get in over their heads and must reexamine what it is to really be happy.

While just about every Pixar original is a classic (or at least excellent), this one ranks up there with them at their best just as Up, WALL*E, and the Toy Story trilogy do. I utterly and unequivocally recommend this film to anyone and everyone, but there are some points I want to make first.

I've seen more than a few comments question if this film denies Free Will. Let me put those worries to rest. It does not.

In the film, Riley's emotions are born from her and how she reacts to situations. The emotions put forth ideas, but it is up to Riley to ultimately decide to take them. Several moments in the film a specific emotion is drawn to do things by Riley's own actions and decisions but never fully understands why that is-- this becomes the catalyst to the main plot-line of learning about the world and how hard it can be to find your place. At the same time it is about the search for true Joy. Not just the emotion (though she is a crucial character), but the key of persevering through suffering and achieving that which we treasure above all.

Of course, I'm trying very hard not to spoil this movie for anyone who has not seen it and might stumble upon this review. That said, this is one of the best films Pixar has ever made. Definitely go see it.

On the other hand, the short before the movie entitled Lava is not one of Pixar's best. It's serviceable, but a bit too reliant on a lame pun and saccharine lyrics to stand up to the best shorts.

Still, the movie is next to flawless. Pixar might be the best maker of movies (animated or not) around today. Here's hoping they can put away the sequel obsession (after The Incredibles 2, of course!) and keep making movies of this caliber. We all win in a situation like that.

Inside Out is the best film of the year so far, and should be seen by anyone looking for a good time at the movies.

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