CGB Review of Inside Out

This movie reminds me of Saint Teresa of Avila’s, “The Interior Castle” and Saint Dymphna, the patroness of mental health.

This is my review of Inside Out!

Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust; the gang's all here!
Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust; the gang’s all here!

They’re not lying when they say that this is the best Pixar movie since WALL-E and Up.  Inside Out tells the story of a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), whose personality is shaped by five personified emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).  When Riley and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco (where I went for the 2014 Walk for Life), she begins experiencing changes in her emotions.  Shiz really hits the fan when Joy and Sadness are thrusted out of Headquarters and into the maze of long-term memory.

I love Joy.  She’s like Casey Newton from Tomorrowland; an eternal optimist with an amazing ability to defuse tension among the group.  Her joyous spirit never becomes annoying because it is grounded by her commitment to Riley’s happiness.  This dedication defines Joy’s every action and keeps her own head above water when everything is falling apart.   It’s because of her that I was able to care for Riley.  We see her grow up from a baby to an eleven-year old girl, so I felt like I knew this character as intimately as the five emotions did.  I guess because I’ve always liked rage comedy, I really liked Anger.  He was cartoonishly angry, not furious to the point of being offensive (as in taking personal jabs at the other characters).  I found Fear to be endearing because he and Anger played off of each other very well.  Imagine Fear as Chucky Finster and Anger as a hot-headed Tommy Pickles.
The world-building is top-notch!  The world of Riley’s mind had loads of character; a child’s mind filled with islands of youthful innocence, controlled by five simplified emotions that mature over the course of time.  I liked how there are five islands for the defining aspects of Riley’s life (family, friendship, hockey, imagination, etc.)  Also the animation is classic Pixar; crisp colors, smooth movements and brightly-lit without looking cheap.

Of course no movie is without its flaws, and Inside Out is no exception.  The parents are the first flaw.  There’s compassionate and then there’s unrealistic happy-go-lucky; Mama and Papa Riley fall into the latter category.  I found it really hard to believe that never once do they get mad or argue with each other when the moving truck is missing.  The mother’s only dialogue is consoling advice and asking “what’s wrong?”  The one time that the father scolds Riley is too restrained.  I’m not saying he has to be abusive, but all they had to do was have the father raise his voice or even pound his fist on the table.  A kids’ movie can have some realism, you know.
The second flaw involves Sadness’ character.  For a character who starts this whole debacle, she doesn’t have much presence.  Sure, she’s read the mind manual, so she knows the way around the long-term memory maze, but even then she just complains while Joy (literally) drags her around.  She never faces consequences or attempts to right the wrong, which reduced her to being a tag-along character for the majority of the film.

Inside Out is an entertaining and intelligent delight!  I’m hooked on a feeling that Pixar has upped the ante with this gem.

Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Dymphna, pray for us.

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