Is Pixar’s 2015 Inside Out their best movie? Yep.
Pixar has a long record and well-deserved reputation for excellent animated movies. I’m not going to go over the list of previous movies and in part it is because Inside Out is so very different.
First of all, much of the movie literally takes place inside our main character’s mind. Riley is a young girl whose family has just moved to San Francisco and she is not happy about the move. It’s a simple enough starting point for a movie except there’s not much plot beyond that.
Think about that for a minute, because in terms of action and plot, that’s really abut all there is, and that in itself is rather remarkable.
What is more remarkable though, is the multi-layered aspect of the movie where a young child is seeing an entirely different movie than an older child, and neither one has the slightest inkling of the movie their parents are watching.
For a little kid, this is a fun movie about these weird little emotion characters and there’s a lot of humor and the story is pretty light. At least that’s what you’ll get if you ask them, but I think even with a young kid, the conceit of having little emotional people inside you that guide and form your outside actions is powerful.
For an older kid, closer in age to Riley, the movie takes on a lot more weight because that version of the movie is about Riley nearly falling apart. Her depression is so acute that in order to get past it, she has to literally rebuild herself from the inside out. It is not difficult to imagine that with a slight change in events things could spiral far out of control.
For a parent, the film is a reminder of just how little we know about our own kids and how easy it is for us to get caught up in the day-to-day events and be completely oblivious to what is going on.
The parents (just Mom and Dad, no names, a la Calvin and Hobbes) are not inattentive parents, not at all. But they are dealing with their own problems. Dad is very worried about this move as well, and he’s wrapped up in trying to keep his company afloat and there’s problems with investors and both Mom and Dad are trying to track down the moving van which has gone missing somewhere in Texas and they’re both pleased that Riley is handling things so well.
It’s not that they are oblivious to their daughter, but her turmoil is nearly all internal and the things they are dealing with are themselves important.
The film is also about the need for a balance between joy and sorrow and what the main character, Joy, comes to find in her own internal journey is that the greatest joy is not achievable without Sadness. Sadness is just as important as Joy,
There is so much in this film that repeated viewings are nearly required. You will discover some new subtlety or perspective every time. I haven’t even mentioned Bing Bong, and I could write a book on him alone.
Is this the best film of 2015 so far? Maybe, though Mad Max: Fury Road is stiff competition.