Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars
Bottom Line: ‘Lava’ was dull. ‘Inside Out’ was a beautiful representation of the inner workings of the emotional center of the mind backed by a touching story.
Like every other Pixar movie ever made, ‘Inside Out’ starts with a short cartoon. This one was called ‘Lava’. It consists of a fairly catchy song about a male volcano all alone in the middle of the ocean longing for, and of course eventually finding female companionship. It pissed me off. Why? Because the male volcano looks like a volcano. Slightly anthropomorphic, but very obviously a volcano. The female volcano? Hyper-feminized to the point that it’s not even recognizable as a volcano. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
WTF is that? Hair? A chin?!?!? A slender neck??? Listen, Pixar, you know how we would be able to tell that a perfectly volcano looking volcano was female? By you saying in the song that it was female and having it sing with a female voice. Which you did. Or, you know what? Why do you have to give either of the volcanos a gender at all? In your representation of the two volcanos, what you are doing is saying to the world that male is normal and female is abnormal. I get it, gendered pronouns make English a bit tricky and the whole male/female relationship is still more traditional than others, but seriously, Pixar, epic fail on just about every level in designing the female volcano. Rant over.
Now on to the feature, ‘Inside Out’ which is an absolute delight. How I wish I was in on the design meetings as they tried to figure out how to represent brain functions on-screen. Core memories, random thoughts, emotions, they’re all brilliantly represented. Yeah, sure, it might not be scientifically accurate, but it still gives a good feel for how certain aspects of the brain function and it makes for some great screen time.
The movie focuses on Joy and Sadness as they go on an epic adventure through 11-year-old Riley’s brain as Riley is experiencing depression from her family’s move to San Francisco. The D-word is never used (probably because even thinking about an 11-year-old with depression is, well, depressing) but it is obvious that’s what the creators were going for. Core memories forgotten. Highlights of life crumbling away. Even though Joy is the central character, ultimately, this movie is about Sadness. It’s about Joy’s coming to an understanding that Sadness has a valuable part to play. It’s also about getting older and emotions getting more complicated.
So, yep, Pixar has done it again. If you can ignore ‘Lava’. Which I can’t. Ugh. But really, ‘Inside Out’ is a delight. It’s funny, happy, sad, all the emotions that Pixar has become known for evoking. It ain’t no ‘Up’, but it is certainly one of their better offerings in a long line of great offerings.