Riley is an eleven year old girl living an idyllic life with her loving family in Minnesota where she plays with her friends, goofs around with her parents and excels at hockey on her local team, but she’s not really who our story is about, or … I mean … she is … but … she isn’t.
This all seems very wholesome at first but it quickly becomes clear that Joy isn’t just the leader she’s more akin to a manipulative dictator, ostracising Sadness, bossing around the others and even altering Riley’s dreams to make them as cheerful as possible, even though she knows it’s against the rules. As a result the other emotions have become underdeveloped and when things don’t go so happily after Riley’s family undertake a disastrous move to San Francisco away from Riley’s friends and the life she’s built, none of the emotions seem to know how to react.
This dilemma explodes to dangerous proportions when after a disastrously sad first day at her new school Riley’s core memories fall out of alignment and Joy and Sadness are unintentionally thrown onto a perilous journey to try and make things right, leaving the inexperienced Fear, Disgust and Anger cluelessly attempting to keep Riley safe and happy.
'Inside Out' is walking a very fine line and is constantly in danger of being too smart for the kids and too silly for the adults, a line Pixar have admittedly made a whole career out of treading, but this feels like their riskiest venture yet. The film is staggeringly surreal, with an extended sequence wherein our heroes foolishly enter the tunnel of abstract thought being the one moment my mind wasn’t quite ready to try and comprehend.
But at the same time the film is super cute, I mean our heroes spend no small amount of time running through the imagination of an eleven year old, though some clever nods are made towards how the mind of a girl on the edge of puberty might be beginning to change, something the emotions are also clearly unprepared for.
My only other complaint is that it really feels like we’re just scratching the surface of a much larger concept, but at the same time if they made a sequel I’m not sure there’s another story that can be squeezed out of this idea. I just think that exploring the emotions of the other characters might have been nice, particularly as that’s what was teased in the trailer.
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