Pixar back to being inventive, literally using emotions to control emotions, but more moving than humourous
The reviews are already almost unanimously positive 2 months before it was released here in Malaysia. No idea why Minions got an earlier release here, but an actual brilliant film had to wait this long. But good stuff are worth the wait. From Pixar Animation Studios who brought us modern animation classics such as Toy Story, WALL-E, Finding Nemo and Up, comes another amazingly inventive, poignant and magically animated picture.
Directed and co-written by Pete Docter (Up, Monsters Inc.), the simple and relatable story focuses on what goes on Inside and Out of the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias). Her action and personality are influenced by five emotions -- Joy (Amy Poehler) the leader, Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) -- in a control centre they call "Headquarters" (the mind) where they manage Riley over a console, "memory orbs" (recorded memories) and five important "islands" (personality traits). Riley has always been a cheerful girl until Sadness starts messing things up in the Headquarters after her parents suddenly move the family from Minnesota to San Francisco. The emotions must struggle their way to make Riley happy again.
The concept and idea to depict how the mind works are so creative that I have no words to describe how impressed I truly am. Although it's not scientific in any way, it's very true and relatable how the mind just screws with us. Emotions just happens. People have to change growing up. Life events could wreck up our "islands". The film convincingly conveys why it's all right to be sad and why it's needed sometimes, although it's a horrible agony. It's a highly and thoroughly emotionally engaging film despite the lack of extremely hilarious and memorable moments. I believe the humour is catered to the younger audience while the heartwrenching story is for grownups. I lost count on how times I had to hold back my tears. This is the real Pixar magic that's been missing in cinema since Toy Story 3 (2010).
It's also smart to choose a female character for the story and make her like a sport (hockey), which would make her closer to having equal typical characteristics and interests of both genders so that it'd be relatable to more audience. Although it'd be even more respectable if Riley was from a less perfect family and had far more challenging problems like poverty, divorced parents, homosexuality, etc. Speaking of which, the gender of the emotions of Riley's parents seem to all follow the owner's gender, but Riley's are mixed. Does that mean she's bisexual? Or will the emotions change as she grows up? Not that it matters but it's interesting.
The design of the characters probably won't be best toy sellers but the colourful and imaginative visuals are still pretty good in overall, especially the art design of the "islands", and the emotional music by Michael Giacchino (Jurrasic World, Tomorrowland) just kills it. The performance of the voice cast is fantastic as well, particularly Amy Poehler (former SNL cast) who has to sound energetically optimistic while expressing other emotions throughout the film, Screen Actors Guild Awards winner Phyllis Smith (The Office TV series) who's annoyingly sad as she needs to be for her role, and Richard Kind (Spin City, Gotham TV series) who plays Riley's forgotten imaginary friend Bing Bong.
What I would've named the film: "Emotions, They Mess with Our Minds Indeed"
Malaysia censorship: Little baby girl topless, why didn't they censor that?! Double standard! Just kidding. Totally clean family animation. But seriously, it doesn't hurt seeing grown up girls topless either.
To watch in 3D? Not available in IMAX here so I didn't bother watching it in 3D. If the general 3D screenings are good enough, it may provide a stronger viewing experience for children as there are a lot of visually fun stuff going on in the film.
Second opinion: My girlfriend enjoyed it as well, cried twice but said that she likes Up more than this.
Verdict: All 'best animated feature' awards for this year might just go to this brilliant film, which will be recognised as one of Pixar's top masterpieces.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Running Time: 102 minutes
Director: Pete Docter
Writers: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Cast: Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith
Malaysia Release Date: 20 August 2015
Local Distributor: (no info)
Production:Pixar Animation Studios
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