Probably one of the main attractions of the 2015 year in animation will be seeing how Pixar can make their comeback after a year off from the big screen. In the time-span of that absence, there has been a growing number of people who hold the opinion that Pixar is now a shade of its former glory. Add to that the wildly divisive reactions to any piece of news regarding Toy Story 4 and a recent explosion of new studios that now seek to dominate over a playground that was once solely ruled over by the big three (Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks), Pixar has a lot of ground to cover if they want to regain the creative spark that once defined them at their height.
Fortunately, if this news is of any confirmation, they may already be on their way.
Perri Nemiroff (of Collider) was one of the lucky ones to be invited to Pixar, where they screened the first 56 minutes (that’s effectively the first two acts) of Inside Out. While she makes it clear that this isn’t so much a review as it is a first impression, she was happy to report that she liked what she saw, even going so far as to say that it could be one of Pixar’s best efforts yet: “Clearly I can’t call it a favorite until I see the third act, but the first two definitely have me hooked and eager to see the rest of it.”
The screening was presented by director Pete Doctor and producer Jonas Rivera, who briefly discussed how Doctor’s own daughter influenced elements of the film and how a surprising amount of research into creating the world(s) of the film: “This whole world is made up so we wanted to base it in as much truth as possible.”
From there, Perri moves on to a breakdown of the footage. While she states that this is all spoiler-free, I would definitely advise caution if you want to be completely surprised when the movie comes out.
With that out the way, let’s have ourselves a look at the nitty-gritty on Inside Out:
- As we all know by now, the plot concerns an 11-year-old kid named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), whose idyllic childhood growing up in Minnesota gets uprooted when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Perri notes here that the film internalizes Riley’s experiences growing up and her reactions feel genuine because her emotions get to spark those responses.
- Each of the five ’emotions’ in the film serve a purpose that’s integral to Riley’s arc, and as Perri puts it: “The emotions are Riley and Riley is her emotions and the seamless intercutting between the mind world and the real world does a spot-on job conveying that they are one and the same, a quality that makes Riley’s growing pains far more meaningful than most.
- The fact that Riley’s parents seem to have a stereotypical ‘mom and dad’ relationship was actually intentional on the part of the filmmakers. This was apparently necessary in order to convey “complex concepts in a short period of time.”
- Amy Poehler reportedly does a satisfying job of portraying Joy, a central character among the ’emotions’ within Riley. While the character is written to be loud, hyperactive and happy, Amy is said to pull all of that off naturally, especially when she is able to “let Joy’s composure crack here and there without ever losing sight of the fact that she is that emotion.”
- The film establishes a very strong connection between Joy and Riley, with Joy being ’emotion #1′ for Riley right from the start. This connection will be important as Riley starts to experience less joy throughout the film: “it amplifies the changes she’s experiencing.”
- When Joy and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) accidentally get sucked up the memory tube and shipped off to what is known as ‘Longterm Memory’, the job then falls to Fear, Anger, and Disgust (Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling) to keep things running. That little arrangement doesn’t quite turn out as smooth as expected (“Needless to say, they have a tough time figuring out who should take charge”) and as a result, Riley begins to act in very erratic ways. Based on what he’s seen so far, Perri noted that while the other three emotions “aren’t as rich as” Joy and Sadness, they still play a key role in the group dynamic and they bring in much of the film’s humor.
- At some point in the film, we will also meet a character named Bing Bong (Richard Kind). He is Riley’s imaginary friend who becomes a hobo of sorts when Riley stops playing with him. He is described as “easily one of the goofiest Pixar characters out there, an odd combination of elephant, dog, cotton candy and more, but he’s also one of the most poignant elements of the film.”
- According to Perri, the film makes a strong selling point out of needing all of your emotions in everyday life (even the negative ones). It also makes a point of telling us that “even the faintest memories from our past still contribute to who we are today.”
Locations in Riley’s Mind
- The home base for the emotions and its uses are described by Perri as follows: “They use the console to guide Riley through her day, they collect memories, keep an eye on Riley’s core memories and at night, one emotion is put on dream duty while the others sleep. It’s a fun, bright, dynamic space that serves as an effective introduction to the emotions and their responsibilities before opening up the story to other locations in Riley’s mind.
- The Personality Islands are where the core memories power different aspects of Riley’s personality and in her head. They are represented as islands: There’s hockey island, friendship island, goofball island, honesty island and family island.
- Longterm Memory is a place where memories go to be forgotten. As Perri explains: “At the end of each day, the emotions ship the collected memories off to longterm memory where they’re maintained by The Forgetters, these small, blue bubble-like creatures who decide which ones are faded to the point of being forgotten and must be thrown away”.
- The Train of Thought serves as a means of transportation around Riley’s mind. Joy and Sadness see it as the best way to make it back to HQ when they are stranded in Longterm Memory.
- Imagination Land is an amusement park where all of Riley’s wildest dreams come true: “There’s a french fry forest, trophy town, cloud town and, a personal favorite, a machine that spits out an imaginary boyfriend.”
- Dream Productions is basically a movie studio for dreams. It looks a lot like Paramount Pictures and is filled with Forgetters who create Riley’s dreams.
Overall, Perri seems to be very impressed with what she’s seen so far and looks forward to seeing the film as a whole with the final third act. Similarly, everything that she’s described sounds promising so far. With any luck, this film could turn out to be Pixar’s long-awaited ‘welcome home’ statement as far as getting back to the fundamentals of what kept them at the top for so long.
Inside Out will land in theaters on June 19, 2015.
What do you think? Any thoughts on what you’ve read thus far? Does this make you excited for Inside Out?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden and Morgan Stradling