My Girls have been begging to go and see Inside Out since they first saw the trailer at Easter. So, because I am a stellar parent, I booked the first showing at Bluewater on the day the film opened in the UK. Lucky,, as it turned out, since the South East was battered by storms and we weren’t missing out on any amazing British Summer Sun by spending our lunchtime inside.
The latest offering from Pixar certainly made us forget the weather. I don’t think I’ve seen such a good Pixar film since Monsters Inc dominated the screens way back before I had a boyfriend, never mind husband and children. Unless you count the opening sequence of Up! which is in a league all of it’s own in my opinion.
The concept of the film is feelings: pre-teen Riley is the central character who has to deal with the unexpected move from Minnesota to San Francisco and all the accompanying stresses and emotions that go with it. The film cuts between Riley herself and the feelings inside her head. The Feelings- Fear, Disgust, Anger, Sadness and Joy- have worked for years to keep Riley “happy” but the change and the circumstances in her head mean that suddenly they are in uncharted territory.
Without wishing to spoil any more of your enjoyment if you’ve not seen it, here are 7 reasons you’ll love watching Inside Out.
1. The short. Lava runs at the beginning of the Feature movie (as an aside I love that more films are harking back to the glory days of cinematography by doing this) and is spellbinding. It reminds you how amazing the world of digital animation is, how bright and engaging, and how it seems like there is only a whisper of code between the digital images you see and real ones.
2. The concept: essentially that feelings have feelings; they want their human to feel a certain way but they rely on the other feelings to help achieve that but sometimes, circumstances are beyond their control. And sometimes things go awry.
3. The funnies. If you’ve seen the trailer you will have seen the interaction between the three family characters, their feelings, and how quickly things spiral out of control. If you laughed like me, partly at the humour but mostly because that’s how it seems your other half responds to situations such as this, then that is just a taste of things to come in the film. There were plenty of jokes and comments completely missed by children that had the adults laughing. But there were just as many kid-funnies.
4. The cast. Odd to say since they are all digitally generated, but the voices behind the characters we see on screen are marvellous. They capture the essence, particularly with the feelings, from Fear (Bill Hader) who writes manifestos on worst-possible outcomes, to Sadness (Phyllis Smith) who you are desperate to cheer up, yet who turns out to be the key ingredient in the movie, to Joy (Amy Poehler) the key Feeling, who turns out to be on a journey of discovery just like her human host.
5. The inventiveness. We’ve all wanted to see what it looks like inside our heads. The reality of the grey matter is always a let down. Yet inside Riley’s head there is colour and light and space far in excess of what is imagined to be in the brain. And that’s the key thing. There is so much imagination in this film. From the memories that fall like marbles in a range of colours, stored and then shipped out during REM sleep to the vaults across the void into which all forgotten memories fall. There are islands of personality, there are clever lightbulbs and projectors for recalling these memories and the journey that Joy and Sadness takes gives you a tour of the landscape well beyond the visible in the film. The land of imagination, pre-school world, the imaginary boyfriend generator. It’s all marvellous and will warrant repeated viewing to really get the breadth of creativity from the Pixar team.
6. The understanding it gives you, of yourself, and your children. One of the key points of the film for me are that until she is 11, Riley is just a happy child. She has a mostly happy childhood, and life, so her feelings are very simple. She is happy, she is sad. The turning point of the film is the understanding that sadness has a crucial role to play, and that you can have more than one feeling in response to the situation.
7. Which brings me onto the best thing about this film: the springboard it gives you to talk to your children about how they feel; to explain complex emotional responses to situations or events; to offer a point of reference to smaller children who are confused by what they feel. There is a commonly held belief that to have your children talk to you as teens, you need to establish lines of communication now, allow them to talk to you about their feelings, indeed help them understand what it is that they are feeling. And this film gives you the base from which to help them explore that.
Inside out is a brilliantly conceived, emotional rollercoaster of a film that all three generations loved when we went to see it. I overheard a little boy whisper to his mother “are you crying again?!” about half-way through, which made me laugh, and pass her a tissue. Take yours: if you don’t need them I guarantee someone will.
PS: the trailer for Secret Life of Pets. Bonus!