This week’s viewing may have been my favorite so far. We watched the short Lava, the film Inside Out, and the short Riley’s First Date.
Lava, the short that accompanied Inside Out, is one of the best Pixar shorts to date. The whole story is told in song and is inspired by the music of Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’olw. Featuring a lonely volcano who is searching for love (or “lava”- clever wordplay!), and a younger volcano under the sea, this short brings together emotion, music, and absolutely breathtaking animation, making it a quintessential Pixar short that is hard to top.
In a world of sequels and less than stellar films, Inside Out is the film that put Pixar back on the map in the mid-2010s. It is a truly brilliant and tongue-in-cheek look at the psychology of our thoughts and emotions that live inside our heads. This story focuses on a young girl Riley who, after having a fairly simple and joyful life, faces a lot of change as her family moves across the country, leaving her old friends and way of life behind. How she and her emotions cope with this change is the root of the story that Pixar is telling here.
I remember seeing this in the theater in 2015 and being blown away by its honest and clever storytelling. It is, arguably, one of the most relatable films that Pixar has ever made. Being able to visually demonstrate the way the brain works to children and adults alike, and do it in an entertaining and engaging way is not an easy task, but the writers and animators pull it off brilliantly.
The voices here are all well cast as the various emotions: Amy Poehler as an upbeat Joy, Phyllis Smith of The Office fame as a perfect Sadness and Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling as Fear, Anger, and Disgust, respectively.
In a word of animated films that lack originality, Inside Out shines as a unique and extremely entertaining entry in the Pixar canon. This may be my favorite Pixar film to date. For those who have yet to see it, you won’t be disappointed. For those who have, it is highly rewatchable and deserves repeat viewings.
In a continuation to the world of Inside Out, the home video release included a great short called Riley’s First Date. Expanding on the meet-cute of Riley and the boy near the end of the film, we get to see what a first date looks like from the point of view of Mom, Dad, Riley, and the boy. This short is so much fun for fans of the film who are looking for more and is definitely worth a watch.
Next week, we will be looking at the short Sanjay’s Super Team and the film The Good Dinosaur.