Riley seems to have the perfect life. She loves hockey, has friends and family, and she’s always joyful. When her family moves across the country, Riley’s emotions are shaken. Personified versions of her emotions must work together to keep her personality intact.
It’s pretty difficult to come up with a decent plot synopsis for Inside Out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that the film alternates between two worlds: one that is very real and one that is far more abstract.
The more literal plot follows 12-year-old Riley, as her parents move from Minnesota to San Francisco, completely turning her world upside down. The majority of the movie, however, follows the abstract plot. The more abstract story follows Riley’s emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust), as they grapple with these changes and control Riley’s reactions from the inside.
Since the film centers around the more abstract plot line, the main character is Joy (Amy Poehler), the self identified manager of Riley’s control center. Joy runs a tight ship, ensuring with every fiber of her being that Riley be happy all the time. The other emotions are delegated to minor duties, and in the case of Sadness (Phyllis Smith), told to stay away and not touch anything. This dichotomy between Joy and Sadness is one of the major plot points, leading to the overall message of Inside Out.
Reviews of this film are overwhelmingly positive. Many people say that Inside Out is the best film to come out of Pixar since Up. I don’t feel exactly the same way. While Inside Out is a good film with a more sophisticated plot, I wouldn’t consider it to be one of their very best.
There are definitely instances of gender stereotypes, specifically when looking into the inner workings of Mom and Dad. I know that caused a lot of issue based on the trailers. Even though the trailers make it seem like the story revolves around Riley and her family, the movie definitely centers inside of Riley’s head, specifically in the reaches of long term memory.
As an adult, I understood where the plot was heading from very early on, and I spent most of the film being very irritated with Joy for her reckless actions. Despite this irritation, Inside Out still delivers some more sentimental moments, such as the moments spent with childhood imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind).
In many ways, I wish the film would have been handled a bit differently. I think the concept they had was really original, but it isn’t utilized in the best way it could have been.
I especially liked the glimpses that viewers get into other people’s minds, such as with mom and dad in the film (minus the stereotypes) and during the end credits. Once you understand how the emotion control center is supposed to work, it’s very interesting to see who runs the show for other people. I may have been more entertained if the story showed more of that rather than what it did.
In the end, the film has a message that is good for all to remember, regardless of age. It’s a story about growing up, having more complex emotions. It’s a reminder that sadness is an important factor in our lives, even if it’s not an enjoyable one at the time.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Inside Out nominated for Academy Awards in the upcoming year, and based on the Disney Pixar track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins.