The saying, “they enjoy the life of Riley” is commonly used to describe someone who seems to have a happy, carefree life, with no problems or worries dragging them down.
In Pixar’s latest release, we get to see what goes on in the head of Reily – an 11 year old girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco at the start of the film.
Her actions are determined by her emotions, which are personified into five beings – joy, sadness, fear, disgust and anger.
Joy is the dominant emotion (and in reality, is our main character), and under her guidance, Reily enjoys a happy, easy-going life, growing up in Minnesota.
Reily had enjoyed “the life of Riley”. She was close to her parents, had plenty of friends, and played on her local hockey team.
However, things changed when Reily had to adapt to a new life in San Francisco – which, as you probably predicted, is emotionally challenging, and provides the context for the film’s drama.
However, the world in which Reily’s emotions live is bigger and more complex than you would think, and bigger than some of the promotional teaser trailers would have you believe – and clearly, Pixar had a lot of fun playing with the concepts of mental processing.
But yet, this world is never so over-the-top or complicated as to dull the viewer’s interest, nor to prompt viewers to spend time picking apart plot holes within this world’s construction.
If there was to be any sort of niggling doubt about the premise of the film beforehand, it was a worry that it would be difficult to create developed characters out of what are effectively meant to be caricatured personifications of different emotions – after all, anger is going to be a hot-head, and fear is going to be a quivering wreck.
However, that is not accounting for the fact that, at the end of the day, the emotions are all united in the goal of making Reily’s life as good and as happy as it is within their power to do so.
All of the emotions look to joy for leadership and guidance, and collaborate together to achieve their objectives.
Regardless, joy, as the main character, receives the greater amount of character development – but much in the same way that Woody and Buzz Lightyear received the larger proportion of development in the Toy Story series, this does not necessarily reduce the role of other supporting characters to props and cardboard cut-outs.
So, what’s the verdict overall? Well, Pixar has a well-deserved reputation for producing top-quality feature films – out of the 15 films they have produced, only 4 failed to score at least 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and only one failed to achieve at least 74% (Cars 2).
So basically, most of us would have had a good reason to believe that “Inside Out” would be a great movie. The only question was whether it would be “Pixar Classic” good, or just a “good” movie compared to more common films? Well, let’s take a quick overview.
“Inside Out” introduces a whole new world without excessive exposition, and allows stellar dialogue and voice acting to get on with drawing us into the dilemmas, fears, concerns and aspirations of our main characters. They show us their world in action, rather than spending half the film explaining why the world is where it is.
In the best of Pixar’s traditions, the film is both funny and sad, clever and goofy. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments, and plenty of very poignant, emotional moments – neither of which ever seem forced, sappy or (overly) cliché.
Maybe the sad moments don’t quite reach the levels of poignancy of the incinerator scene in Toy Story 3, but for a movie that did not have two prequels to build up the emotional connections (no pun intended) between the audience and the main characters beforehand, “Inside Out” has more than its fair share of poignancy all the same.
Overall, I am pleased to be able to confirm to you that “Inside Out” is, in fact, an outstanding film that well deserves its place among the best movies ever produced by Pixar. A definite must-see.