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Movie review: Inside Out

Roslyn Hull

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions — Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness — conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school. imdb

Name a Pixar film you have seen and didn’t love. Hard isn’t it? I love them so much I have even stopped the pretense of taking a token child. Because they aren’t really movies just for children, are they?

Pixar movies are smart, subtle, moving works of art that can be appreciated again and again. They are projects made with passion and dedication, often starting from a kernel of personal truth for the production team and always bringing a couple of hours of delight for the audience.

They have turned my daughter’s generation into hoarders (because no one wants to be the girl who throws Jessie the cowgirl away) and my friend’s daughter’s generation into warriors who embrace their curls. They have encouraged us to step lightly when bugs are around, to respect fish (even sharks) and embrace monsters. And the very best ones have also broken our hearts, just a little bit.

The pre-title and title sequence of Up is a better (and sadder) love story than all the Twilight movies. Wall-E too. Pete Doctor (and others) wrote both of these. He also directed Up and wrote and directed this film. He has been with Pixar since the start and may be a bit of a genius, although he has apparently said that he works really hard so people won’t notice his lack of talent. Who is he kidding?

He has joined an exclusive group of TV and filmmakers who have made me tear up in public. I am beginning to think of him as the Steven Moffat of animation because I saw Inside Out this week and I am emotionally battered once again.

The children in the audience weren’t, they loved it. Having talked to a few parents it seems that kids connect with the characters and the story as an enjoyable way of visualizing what is going on inside them – and maybe a way of communicating that to others too. I foresee psych lectures based on this film.

Parents, unlike the children, will need tissues.

The voice actors are all great and the production is gorgeous. The ‘skin’ of the various emotions is so enticing, in the same way everyone wanted to cuddle Sulley’s incredible fur, I just want to brush Sadness’ hair and touch Joy. If you would like to know more about the emotions and the theories the story is based on, this is an interesting article.

All of that aside though, it is the audacity of the director and writers that stuns me. They saw the line in the sand of what should be in children’s movies … and didn’t just ignore it, they used it as a skipping rope. The dared to imagine they could portray a person on the cusp of childhood and tell us how she ticks.

In doing so, they show the audience that it is not just emotions but the depth and complexity of emotions that makes us…us.

Our children cannot remain happy toddlers forever but that isn’t bad, it is just the next step. It is also probably why Riley’s mum’s leading emotion is sadness.

Need a tissue again.


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author