2016.3: Inside Out (Blu-ray)
Inside Out is without any doubt Pixar’s best film in years, breaking a run of what have been at best pretty average efforts. Of course its hardly fair for every Pixar film to equal Ratatouille (my own personal favourite) or The Incredibles but here the magic is clearly back again; you can sense that boundaries are being pushed again at last and the ready Pixar formula of making popular hits has been left to one side for (most) of the time to enable a few risks to be taken.
The story concerns what goes on in the mind of young Riley, a little girl living happily in Minnesota until her family moves to San Francisco. Emotions of Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness and Disgust run a control room in Riley’s head, trying to help her lead a fulfilling life and keep her safe and happy but the move to San Francisco proves to be too much even for them. Losing her familiar home, school and friends, Riley increasingly falls into feelings of loneliness and despair, and the efforts of Joy and Sadness to return Riley to a contented state backfire when they are accidentally thrown out of the control room (leaving Anger, Fear and Disgust left to try manage things on their own with disastrous results).
Lost down where long-term memories are left behind and eventually even forgotten completely (memories contained as moving images within spheres of light reminiscent of Doug Trumbull’s Brainstorm), Joy and Sadness have to learn to work together to get back to the control room in another A-B trip/journey of self-discovery so familiar to Pixar fans. This last point perhaps betrays Pixar reverting to formula but there is so much imagination on display here it’s hard to fault. Its funny, its clever, it’s quite touching at times and has a powerful story within it about what makes us ‘us’ and the power of memories (and how we remember them).
Its a great film and really quite magical. This is what Pixar does best when everything seems to just ‘click’ and the animated form manages something live-action couldn’t. I cannot imagine what Walt Disney himself would have thought had he been able to watch films like this and see what animated features have become at their very best.
As usual I’m left wishing that live-action films could have so much care and craft be given to their scripts as the best Pixar films have. Thats the real magic afterall to these films- yes they look gorgeous but really its the characters and the scripts that are the real achievements. And kudos to Michael Giacchino for providing the film with another great score; he really seems to have a special knack of supporting these animated features with the fun and pathos of music that intensifies and supports everything we see.