Inside Out is celebrating its 5th anniversary today. The film premiered back in the summer of 2015, in a time a worldwide pandemic was only a concern in science fiction movies. The film had a lot of praise, I mean, a LOT. Inside Out won a total of 98 awards from 114 nominations, including Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Critics’ Choice, and Annie Awards.
But what makes Pixar’s 15th feature film, the third from director Pete Docter, so special? First of all, Inside Out is a gigantic triumph of both concept and design. The premise itself was Pixar’s most creative idea since Up or WALL-E but is the fact that the team pushed that premise as far as they could what makes the movie so great.
Pixar took a handful of things related to the human mind and found a way to express them visually in the movie: dreams, abstract thought, memories, imagination, fears, it’s all there. But what makes those things work so well is the way the characters (mostly Sadness, Joy, and Bing Bong) interact with them, and how they represent important moments of their journey.
Another high point of Inside Out is undoubtedly its five main characters. Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear are extremely charismatic, and a lot of that is thanks to the solid voice cast of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, and Bill Hader. Each one of them was able to make the characters unique and relatable, and at the same time, their interactions with each other are just perfect. It’s tough to get to the end of the movie without wondering what your five emotions are doing inside your head.
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Pixar is well known for its ability to mix comedy and drama, with the perfect amount of each to satisfy older and younger audiences. It’s very clear why Inside Out was a hit among kids: it features a colorful and curious world, charming characters, and a funny adventure throughout.
But what really makes Inside Out stand out in the Pixar library is how deep it takes the drama to discuss a very important subject in today’s society: mental health. The way Riley struggles with anxiety, triggered by all the sudden changes in her life, is something kids may not understand, but it’s very relatable to the adult audience. We’ve all been scared of changes at some point in our lives, and those changes made us who we are.
Bing Bong’s death scene is proof of how bold Inside Out’s subtext really is. To guarantee Joy’s return to the headquarters so that she can place the core memories back, Bing Bong chooses to sacrifice himself. The parallel Docter and the writers wanted to make is that to move on, Riley needs to let her childhood go first. Cruel, but bold (I know you cried, it’s ok).
Besides that, Inside Out makes other strong statements, the kind of ones you save for the rest of your life. You have to embrace your own sadness to grow as a person. You have to understand that there will always be happy days and sad days. And, just as Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust taught us: memories are the most important thing we all have.
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