Monday, 24 August 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out

After three lacklustre and uninspiring films (Cars 2, Brave and Monster University) and two months of long wait (that's how long it took for this film to release in Malaysia!), Pixar is finally back to their best again with its latest most ambitious, complex yet funny, thoughtful, imaginative, creative, innovative and beautifully crafted emotional film to date. Throughout the years, we've been given films about talking toys (Toy Story), bugs (A Bug's Life), monsters (Monsters Inc), fish (Finding Nemo), cars (Cars), rat (Ratatouille) or robots (Wall-E) that have feelings. So what if there's a film about feelings that have feelings instead?

Inside Out is a film about the inner mind of an ordinary 11-year old girl Riley. Much like any of us, Riley's conscious mind is guided by five of her core emotions since young: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. These emotions are represented by characters that are constantly interact with each other inside Riley's brain. For 11 years, Joy is the lead of the group, the main contributor for shaping Riley's character and personality by providing many joyful memories for the child. However, things start to change when the family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Joy's job of making Riley happy suddenly become more difficult as Sadness becomes uncontrollable and more powerful than any other emotions and her touch can override any existing memories. This started a clash between the two emotions that both of them accidentally get thrown out from 'Headquarters' into the long-term memory storage facility along with Riley's character-building 'core memories'. Here starts a journey of adventure where Joy and Sadness need to venture into the unknown 'parts' of Riley's mind to go back into the 'Headquarters' before it's too late.

First and foremost, no words could ever describe how much effort is poured into creating the world of Riley's mind. The creativity and inventiveness of the heavily detailed interpretations of the brain's inner workings is nothing short of impressive. As Joy and Sadness going on a journey in Riley's mind, we get to see the various imaginative interpretation of how the mind operates: dreams and subconscious thoughts, personality islands, train of thoughts, imagination land, long-term memory storage facility, what happens to our imaginary friends as we grow up, abstract and concrete thoughts, showing the intertwined relationships between complex emotions and why these emotions can't exist without each other. There are lots of surprisingly funny moments that will make you smile or laugh throughout the film. With this film, Pixar touched on the complexities of human emotions and provided a thoughtful look at understanding the feelings of a child (and adults as well). It shows that our lives are made up of memories that shape who we are, how we feel and what we think. In short, it's the various experiences that happened around us that define our character and our various persona that we carry throughout our lives.

The film greatest strength is that it managed to highlight certain truths about the emotional complexity of our thoughts and emotions by showing us the importance of each of these core emotions and how the interactions between these core emotions contribute the well-being of a person. The film essentially tries to let us realize, understand, accept and embrace that sadness and misery are just as important as joy and happiness. Without sadness, happiness will not truly exist. Truly happy memories are often the ones that makes us sad at the same time. When there's sadness, comes empathy and understanding. It is what hold us to one another, makes us realize the importance of togetherness. Sadness should not be interpreted as a negative feeling, but a necessary feeling in life that gives life meaning.

Pixar has created something truly original. It had everything you could expect out of a Pixar movie. Moreover, it managed to show the complexities of human psychology by providing a simple but clear view of how life consists of memories and how it shapes our character and personality. There are many emotional moments in this film that will surely put tears in your eyes. It contains a strong meaningful message that is relatable for the young and old. It's a mind-blowing experience. A DEFINITE MUST watch. Don't miss it.


Pixar short film: Lava - A short musical animation about a lonely volcano singing in hopes for finding someone to love him. Simple and decent.

Worthy Note:
  • The film's producers consulted numerous psychologists, including Dacher Keltner from the University of California, Berkeley, who helped revise the story emphasizing the neuro-psychological findings that human emotions are mirrored in interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them.
  • The writers considered up to 27 different emotions, but settled on five (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger) to make it less complicated. Some of the major emotions that ended up being cut included Surprise, Pride, and Trust. The creators originally wanted to have 27 emotions in the film. But dropped it down to 5 to make it less complicated. 
  • Earlier versions of the story did include a character named Gloom, who was going to be the film's main antagonist, but this was dropped because the film-makers didn't wish to imply any connection to clinical depression (much less make a villain out of it).
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