Inside Out: Pixar’s return to form

Christian Butler

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While continuing to maintain its blockbuster success, Pixar’s status as a critical darling has been thoroughly tarnished over the past few years, after the uninspired prequel Monsters University and the dire sequel Cars 2 appeared to be more interested in merchandising than telling an engaging story. Brave, the only non-sequel Pixar has released since 2009, also failed to live up to the expectations set by previous entries in the Pixar canon.

Inside Out, Pixar’s latest flick and (gasp) original title, sees the return of Up’s director Pete Docter. Like his previous movie with Pixar, here Docter successfully creates a vibrant, colourful world with a poignant subtext – something that’s been lacking in recent Pixar films.

The premise of Inside Out is that little creatures, which embody different human emotions live inside the mind of each individual. The film follows 11-year-old Riley Anderson, and the manifestations of her emotions who control her actions from inside her head – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger.

Things go awry when Riley moves to a new city. As she deals with the challenges of the big move, Sadness gets more involved in forging Riley’s new memories than Joy would like. The plot eventually sends Joy and Sadness on an extraordinary adventure through Riley’s psyche with the help of Riley’s forgotten imaginary friend Bing Bong.

The cast are all veterans of American sitcoms, with the best performances coming from Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler as Joy, The Office’s Phyllis Smith as Sadness, and Spin City’s Richard Kind as Bing Bong. While featuring fast-paced comedy dialogue, the movie also movingly expresses the happy memories children must forget as they grow up, and the need for sadness in a balanced life.

Inside Out is truly one of the great Pixar inventions, turning abstract cerebral concepts into a visually exciting world, understandable to children as well as adults. Undoubtedly a return to form, this delightful work of whimsy and poignancy proves Pixar has a lot of life in it yet.

Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.

Watch the trailer for Inside Out:

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