To say I was excited for 'Inside Out' is an understatement, to say I was excited for 'Inside Out' after the buzz it had received after its release in the USA... is something beyond my wildest comprehension. Pixar is undoubtedly one of the smartest studios in the business but I would be lying if I had not felt the decline in quality after 'Toy Story 3' - which is really a common opinion on the internet in general. However I have finally gotten the chance to see their latest production (it only got released here about a week ago) so lets find out if they truly have returned.

One of the more obvious signs that this was not going to be another 'Brave' or 'Cars 2' was Pete Docter's return in the writer's chair as he is undoubtedly one of the most talented screenwriters Pixar has as he was one of the people behind movies like 'Up', 'Wall-E' and 'Toy Story'. We also returned to an original ideal that (unlike 'Brave') did not feel like it was trying to be Dreamworks. The premise of 'Inside Out' is PURE Pixar. But lets not continue beating around the bush here as I shall just flat out say it. You know when you get goosebumps and you start to feel cold? Well imagine that for 102 minutes because that is what I went through when I saw this film. 'Inside Out' is a masterpiece of epic proportions. This is one of the most mature and morally complex film Pixar has ever, EVER made (and these are the people behind 'Up' and 'Toy Story 3'). In fact it might even be a bit TOO smart because I cannot imagine a person under the age of 10 understanding the endlessly deep and complicated metaphors and the human emotions this movie seamlessly weaves into the story. That is not to say kids would not enjoy it - in fact I am sure they would love it as it has a lot of bright colors, the characters are really entertaining and it is just a blast.

Visually this is exactly what you are expecting from the creative team at Pixar. Top of the line animation, masterful character design and a vibrant range of colors. It really cannot be understated just how god these characters are designed. Sadness is a perfect personification of... well, sadness and Joy's bright colors and big eyes contrasts the two perfectly. All of them look just incredible and will fit in well with the rest of Pixar's most memorable character designs.

The screenplay is no doubt the very best aspect about the film. This is Best Original Screenplay material at the Oscars. 'Inside Out' knows just how to take its audience into the human mind without ever getting too needlessly complicated for them to follow along. Through many different visual metaphors and clever storytelling, this is possibly the greatest insight into the human condition ever put on film. It is clearly having so much fun with the premise but the astoundingly mature script never goes too far in either direction. It keeps the themes and message of the movie front and center making it impossible not to burst out crying at various points of the film. What this film was ultimately trying to accomplish (and exceeded in spades) was teaching a very valuable lesson to children; sadness is not inherently a bad thing. In fact sometimes sadness is the best feeling you can have. One of the best aspects of the movie is that when you look at the grand scheme of things... this is a very small story (both literally and figuratively) as there are no big fight scenes, no worldwide catastrophe, no family member about to face death... and yet it feels like the biggest thing in the world because this is something we can all relate to. Everybody alive has had moments like this that Riley is going through and thus we know just how important and huge it feels.

Really this movie is amazingly challenging for the audience. When you see this film you are not being treated like a child (even though it takes place literally in the mind of one) and nothing is being spoonfed to you. This is not fastfood, this is the real deal. It is obvious Pete Docter's characters in his head have been thinking about this idea for quite a while as this is such a perfectly constructed and balanced film. For example; the sacrifices, the loses and the deaths - are real. There is no out-of-nowhere happy ending where EVERYTHING  and everyone are back to normal and essentially retcon the original emotion you had throughout the film. Pixar also knows how to get away with the dark stuff because they have more than enough pathos in all the other categories to back it up - like I said, it is just the right balance.

As is to be expected, the voice cast is beyond perfect. There was not a single occation throughout the film were I thought "Amy Poehler" - NO, this was Joy. Phyllis Smith was not in the film - Sadness was. Really though, they all knock it out of the park. Lewis Black steals the show as Anger in so many scenes he is in and probably got the most amount of laughs out of me in the entire film. Its clear they all had so much fun in these roles and it honestly makes me open to see a sequel to this because this is probably the closest to 'Toy Story' without being 'Toy Story' that Pixar has ever gotten. I can imagine a sequel that takes place during the adult years of Riley's life which could be very interesting to see (only problem being that it might have to go too dark for a Pixar film and it would be quite hard not to do a complete retread of this film). If I still had my way though I would ultimately say no to a sequel. It would have to be Pete Docter's brilliant mind that could convince me because if he announced he is writing and directing a sequel - you bet it is going to be a great film.

When I first heard about the film I was actually worried how they were going to make it work with these characters because I was thinking they would have Joy's character be that she is always happy and anger's character is always angry which obviously would not really work for a feature length film but the movie makes sure that we are aware right away that Pete Docter is really trying to capture the spirit of the human condition and by doing that - the emotions in Riley's head cannot be one-note characters, they have to be well rounded with a mixture of all emotions - really they just specialize on one in particular.

Another unsung hero of the film is Michael Giacchino who composed one of his very best scores in his career. He hits just the right tone easily and it adds to what is already an incredibly emotional experience (but of course he also nails the lighter moments too).

It is really interesting because when you look at it, Joy can be seen as the villain of the story. In fact, I believe she most definitely is the villain. Bare in mind - it is not her fault, she clearly loves Riley and wants nothing but happiness for her. But that is the key point - she wants nothing but happiness for Riley. As the beginning of the film very cleverly told us, Joy is not very keen on letting Sadness touch the controls and this continued right from when Riley was a baby to the end of the first act before their adventure together begins (although she still did not get Sadness' importance). Joy's state of mind is such an innocent but understanding perspective, I mean why would anyone want to be sad when they can be happy? Being happy is aways a good thing right? This is were the movie REALLY shines. Of course I already covered what this movie is ultimately about but it is the road there that makes it work so astonishingly well. Joy tries to keep Sadness out of the way - but fails to understand the importance of being sad in the process. A lesson we all learn by the end of the film.

Overall, 'Inside Out' is a magnificent film. This might be the closest to a perfect movie you can get and that is quite a compliment. The screenplay is endlessly layered, the morals are astoundingly mature and complex, the characters are wonderful to watch, the pacing is utter perfection, the voice cast knocks it out of the park, all the jokes hits the mark perfectly... this is just a transcendent production, one that will standout as one of the very best animated movies ever made and will surely be up for best picture and best original screenplay once the Oscars come up. Pixar has returned, and I would be lying if I said it is not a wonderful feeling.


- Lucas


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