Inside Out'. Visually fascinating as always, inventive, pretty entertaining and, finally, a riskier, braver move by embracing a serious issue ('Up' was "there" too, but only for the first 10 minutes): an insight on emotions and growing up through the mind of a child. Anyone who knows me (or reads the Blog) is aware how reluctant I am in what regards to animation. The visual richness and ability to explore/add new effects and techniques is pretty amazing but, imo, it's killing storylines, plot developments and acting. 'Inside Out', I'm keen to say, proves I can be mistaken.
Riley is a very happy 11-year-old kid from Minnesota with loving parents and a passion for hockey. But things are about to change drastically as the family has to move to San Francisco. It's a 360º degrees turn for little Riley and her emotions are going to explode. And that's exactly what are we going to see, as her emotions are the real protagonists of the movie, which try to guide her on every step of the way: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. The quintet live in Headquarters, the control room located inside Riley's mind. Until the arrival to San Francisco, Joy has been clearly the leading emotion, but the struggle of change creates a serious unrest on the kid. A new city, a new place, a new school. The five emotions (excellent work of the voices, by the way) are dealing with a completely different scenario, where tension and turmoil appear. Sadness (the best character hands down, impossible not to love her) in particular keeps getting in the way, mucking things up, transforming pleasant memories into melancholic, sad ones. Things get even worse when Joy and Sadness accidentally get swept away into the far reaches of Riley's brain, a visually stunning, gorgeous landscape of the mind, where beyond the control room are several islands representing Riley's personality.
'Inside Out' then would turn into a more traditional adventure movie for kids, with Joy and Sadness trying to get back into Headquarters... if there wasn't for the fact the two emotions are moving throughout extremely sensible mind areas like Riley's subconscious, and because is a race against time: Riley's crisis are destroying her emotional landscape. There's a slight moment the word depression came to my mind while watching the movie and, although I would say Disney wins and the plot drags slightly from what it could have been, entering a more conventional, funnier "action" ground, far for the complexity it was promising, I can't complain really. The overall feeling is that Pixar wanted to target adults for almost its entirety this time, without forgetting children. Kudos for that.
Because 'Inside Out' is a wonderful attempt to portray what's going on inside the head of a kid. The moments where we see the adults' head are as funny as revealing (wish there would have been more scenes), as behind the laughs and charming moments there's a rare depth that has to be celebrated. There's a commanding emotion inside all of us, guess formed by the years and experiences we have to face. Young Riley shifts from a life dominated by Joy into something else, with multiple and, many times, conflicting simultaneous emotions, where other colours aside from the bright yellow of Joy might be needed. Isn't that what growing up is about? Acknowledging life is complex? Learning than life has many contradictions, turnbacks and deceptions but it's still an exciting and worthy ride? It's a great lesson to be learnt, for children and adults as well.