Inside Out (2015)
Film Critics can be like Riley in Inside Out.
Our core memories are precious.
When a character in Pixar's Inside Out makes an allusion to "Jake," it jogs the Chinatown core with aplomb.
Inside Out is teeming with such movie references. It is sublimely self-referential, crammed with allusions that might make Marvel jealous. Without its references to Pixar's past movies, Inside Out might be bereft of details. It draws almost endlessly on the Toy Story trilogy (1995,1999, 2010), Cars (2006 + 2011), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and a whirlwind of other Pixar pixels.
But I draw the line at what happened to Remy in Inside Out. For shame.
Ratatouille (2007) and Finding Nemo (2003) are my two favorite Pixar creations, and I am sad at their plundering. The island of Humility has sunk by 2015. Remy and Nemo were humble, but humility isn't an appreciated value in 2015. Remy is history, and we know what 2015 thinks about history.
Inside Out focuses on five major emotions in the head of an 11-year old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias). The five characters who direct Riley's feelings are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), and Anger (Lewis Black). They are behind a control panel in the head of Riley. Joy tries to protect Riley's happiness. She has the daunting task of keeping Sadness from fumbling and messing things up. She can't. But by the end Sadness has found her true value. Joy and Sadness are both necessary.
When Riley and her parents (Diane Lane + Kyle MacLachlan) move to San Francisco from her beloved Minnesota, her emotions have to endure severe upheaval.
Joy and Sadness are cast out of the headquarters of the mind. One character says, "The islands of personality are what make Riley, Riley." The "islands" of family, friends, hockey, and Goofball island are what give Riley her individual personality. When they go dark, Joy and Sadness have to go on a quest to return to Headquarters and save Riley from herself. It's a heady quest.
Director Pete Docter, co-director Ronnie del Carmen, and a host of creative artisans have joined together to make a memorable movie. Although it may be overrated in the gush of enthusiasm, Inside Out is clever and entertaining. It's a potential core memory.
The character of Bing Bong (Richard Kind) who was Riley's imaginary friend reminded me of my "friendship" with Alan Ladd - Shane and Jim Bowie.
When I go to the movies, I hope for joy. But joy is jaundiced at most movies today.
I try to avoid disgust and anger at the movies. They intruded on me at the showing of Inside Out. A woman two seats away was portraying a blonde dumpster, perpetually and loudly shoveling popcorn and the contents of several boxes into her maw like the clown on the screen. But as long as Lewis Black was in my head, I could endure her.
Inside Out brings a new perspective. Move over, William Bendix. The Life of Riley is now female.
For more movies like Inside Out, check out 10 Movies Like Inside Out - Fantastical Coming-Of-Age Animation at Movies Like Movies.