'Inside Out' - Movie Review

The movie opens with a voice-over by Joy (Amy Poehler), who is our narrator throughout the film. She's one of the five emotions (the others being Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear) that control the behaviour of the star of our other story line, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) - who is an actual human child. When Riley is 11, her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco - triggering the events in both our story lines (ie. "Inside" and "Outside"). Externally, Riley is unhappy with the move, missing her old home and disliking her new one. Internally, Sadness keeps touching joyful memories and turning them sad, putting her in conflict with Joy. That conflict leads to the two of them getting into a struggle that sees them accidentally ejected from "headquarters" and dumped into the massive long-term memory storage area and then trying to find their way back as their absence causes turmoil in Riley's mind.

I first saw this movie on a 9" screen on an airplane seat back, which is a terrible thing to do to any work of art. I bought the movie as soon as it came out on BluRay, complete with 3D version. There is, of course, immensely more detail in the artwork than I could see on a 9" screen. It's a beautiful movie, full of exceptionally vivid colours. Both the story lines are good, and the joining of the two is a miracle of structure: both story lines become more tense and reach a peak simultaneously, and events in one reflect events in the other. There's an immense amount of well applied humour, including Pixar's trademarked humour-for-watching-parents slyly inserted where the kids won't mind it. According to Wikipedia, the movie went through years of development and massive and repeated changes of plot during the process - including director Pete Docter fearing he was going to be fired over development problems (which actually led to an epiphany about the story). I can believe it was tough to develop, but they got it right in the end. It is, if you'll pardon the expression, a Joy to watch.

The quality of the 3D experience is fairly good: I noticed slight artifacting around quickly moving characters, putting this into the second tier of 3D movies (the first tier, with essentially flawless 3D, is occupied only by Pixar's "Finding Nemo"). The only important assessment is whether or not I would watch it again in 3D: some movies, most notably "Edge of Tomorrow," flatly fail this test - it's a very good movie, but the 3D is so bad it's unwatchable and I'll only re-watch it on standard BluRay. But "Inside Out" looks good (if not perfect) in 3D and passes the test.

BluRay Extras

BluRay Extras include "The Women of 'Inside Out'," "Lava," "Riley's First Date?," and the director's commentary. "The Women of 'Inside Out'" had women from the movie team talking about what they were like as kids and which movie characters they most associated with. "Lava" was the short that was shown before "Inside Out" in theatres - easily Pixar's worst short, featuring an incredibly creepy singing volcano with a crap song and no particular plot. "Riley's First Date?" has us peering into the minds of the four involved parties when the first boy ever shows up at Riley's house to go out with her. In contrast to "Lava," this one is hysterically funny and beautifully summarises the crisis of emotions going on in the parents' and daughter's heads as this small scene plays out.

The movie commentary mostly consists of directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen talking about some of the more technical aspects of the development of the movie, only infrequently referencing what's going on on screen at the time. There are some moments of insight, but for the most part I found it remarkably dry and actually destructive to some of the magic of the film.