The Film: Inside Out
The Pitch: Herman’s Head, The Movie
Number of Nominations: One
Which Category? Best Animated Feature
Will it Win? Probably. I have only see one of the other nominated films in this category: Anomalisa, which is brilliant, weird, and bleak. Inside Out is more conventionally entertaining, and it was a box-office success, which lends weight with Academy voters (there’s a chance that they’ve actually seen it). Plus it’s a Disney/Pixar film, and they tend to do very well at the Oscars.
Inside Out is a bright, colourful, funny, corny, emotionally-manipulative film with an important message for children: it’s okay to feel sad sometimes, and in fact, it’s sometimes necessary, and that it’s a big part of growing up.
When 11-year-old Riley and her parents move to a new city, it’s up to Riley’s five main emotions — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust — to help her adjust. Joy and Sadness are accidentally launched on a journey through Riley’s brain to preserve her core memories, and as the duo races back to Headquarters, Fear, Anger and Disgust must figure out how to guide Riley.
The inside of Riley’s mind is very imaginatively constructed (part Steampunk Disco, part Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, part Gilliamesque Hellscape). In fact, if it resembles anything in real life, it’s a Disney theme park, which is probably deliberate (I assume there is now an Inside Out ride at Disneyland).
The voice talents of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling are all well used, with Poehler in particular doing much of the heavy lifting as Joy. Smith brings a wonderful weariness to Sadness. Richard Kind is goofy with just the right amount of pathos as Bing-Bong, Riley’s now-forgotten imaginary friend.
As is often the case with Pixar films, the attention to detail is impeccable, both in terms of animation and story, and it should come as no surprise considering the subject that the filmmakers are prepared to put the audience through an emotional wringer.
Inside Out may be aimed at youngsters, but unsuspecting grown-ups may find the room getting a little misty at times. You may also find yourself wondering whatever happened to your childhood imaginary friend.
While the storytelling can be a little heavy-handed at times, you can let it slide because, well, we’re dealing with the inside of a child’s mind, so not much is subtle. The subconscious is terrifying. Memories are colour-coded by emotion. Riley’s train of thought is, in fact, a train.
It’s a mark of Inside Out‘s confidence, though, that it has a completely throwaway Chinatown joke, and I enjoyed the movie studio set of the Dream Factory, and the area dealing with Abstract Thought is very cleverly realised.
Verdict: Four Formative Childhood Memories out of Five