Meet the emos

Pixar goes inside the mind of an 11-year-old in the ingenious Inside Out

Kim Taylor-Foster


Kim Taylor-Foster

Meet the emos

Inside Out (U)
Running time 94 mins
Rating: ****

WHEN the latest children’s film comes out, parents everywhere find themselves sitting through a blur of mind-numbing colour and movement for a couple of hours, for the sake of their kids’ entertainment. When a Pixar movie hits cinemas, however, it’s
a different story. The grown-ups usually want to see the film as much as their young counterparts – because there’s as much in them for adults to appreciate as there is for minors.

Inside Out is the latest effort from the celebrated animation studio. Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters Inc, Up), the longstanding Pixar employee has said in the past that he and the studio’s other writers and animators have historically created Pixar films first and foremost for themselves. This means that every single Pixar release you’ve ever seen is made with the utmost care and attention – and a lot of love; you can see it oozing from every frame. It’s a formula that’s resulted in an unrivalled body of work dating back to the very first Toy Story in 1995 – which, incidentally, Docter wrote. Inside Out is no exception.

Existing as a sort of companion piece to Up, which looks at old age, Inside Out examines childhood – and, specifically, growing up.The film focuses on emotions and the feelings we have as we grow – and in the style of the old Beano/Dandy comic strip, The Numbskulls, each key emotion is given figurative form as a tiny being inhabiting the mind of a young girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias).

When Riley is uprooted by her parents, moving from her Midwest home to San Francisco on the West coast of America, she leaves her old school, friends and life behind and must find a way to adapt. As her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) – try to work out how best to cope, chaos reigns and Riley is thrown into turmoil. The emotions must go on a journey to pull Riley back from the brink.

Inside Out is ingenious – it’s vividly imagined and brought to captivating life on screen. Docter and his team of animators have painstakingly crafted an imaginative internal landscape revolving around a complex yet simplified insight into the workings of a pre-pubescent girl’s head. It’s a film that should be shown to every new generation as a way of helping them to understand the abstract concept of emotions, why they need to feel and how they’ll change as they get older. Characters aren’t as funny or as lovable as Toy Story’s Woody and co, a series of films that also deals with growing up, nor as idiosyncratic and adorable as those in Up. Neither is it up there with modern classic Wall-E, but its themes and the sensitive and inspired way in which it handles its subject matter, alongside its ability to tug at the heartstrings and engage, make it an equally important addition to the Pixar showreel.

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