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Blu-ray Review: Disney/Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’
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Disney Pixar's INSIDE OUT movie review

Inside Out
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Directors: Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen
Screenwriters: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Richard Kind
Music: Michael Giacchino
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release date: November 3, 2015

The widely successful Inside Out has finally hit DVD/Blu-ray. Recent Pixar fare has not been a true reflection of the poignant emotions you would normally feel while watching films about toys, seniors who go out on one last adventure, clown fish, and tiny robots. So it seems fitting that Pixar’s latest film brings that poignancy home by focusing on the emotions that drive us: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear. We all have these emotions, which makes the film that much more relatable – there are arguments that there are different numbers of emotions, but for narrative sake, directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen focused on these five.

Inside Out is centered in the mind, not the brain, of 11-year-old Riley. Here, the mind looks like a control center of sorts – this was to avoid having the film look and feel like Innerspace – with the emotions each performing a job. Joy (Amy Poehler) keeps Riley happy; Anger (Lewis Black) is responsible for keeping things fair and social justice; Fear (Bill Hader) keeps her safe, and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) protects Riley from being poisoned. But the four can’t understand why Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is there, as all she seems to do is make Riley sad. But the five are happy together, and do all they can to keep Riley that way, until they learn that Riley and her family are moving from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Most of Pixar’s efforts can strike an emotional chord, but Pete Docter is the one who has consistently made us shed a tear. Time and time again, the director has carefully crafted a story that made us cry, as evidenced by Monsters, Inc. and Up. But he has also managed to a have sense of adventure and make us laugh, as also evidenced by the three movies he has directed. Docter’s first two worlds had scale to them, we had a sense of the size of the world, but in Inside Out, the director took a more ambitious approach by not adding scale which reflects the idea that the mind is just too big to map out. The human’s control center (called headquarters in the film) uses glass orbs that each represent a memory, and if that memory is significant, then it gets turned into a core memory which would help shape the character’s personality – which are represented by islands that look like portions of Disneyland theme park lands.

But family’s move is especially hard-hitting when it is just one calamity after another. The new house looks dreary, the moving van went to the wrong destination, etc. All of this pretty much gives Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger more of a reason to believe that this entire move was a bad idea, but Joy is focused on keeping Riley happy, and helps her reminisce about sliding down stair railings or use a good idea (which happens to be a light bulb) to bring her mom and dad out of their moving distress by playing a friendly game of indoor hockey.

As Inside Out progresses, we see that it isn’t easy to suppress certain emotions, and that these emotions have purpose beyond their namesake. The film then takes that adventurous turn when Sadness causes Riley to create a sad core memory. Not wanting Riley to member this, Joy tries to avoid the blue-colored orb from being turned into a personality island. Chaos ensues over at headquarters, and we see Joy and Sadness inadvertently being taken out of headquarters and falling into the vast world of long-term memory.

While Jay and Sadness try to make it back to headquarters, Disgust, Anger, and Fear are left to try to keep Riley calm or at least try to think like Joy. Of course with those emotions in command it isn’t easy. So as the film dives further, it starts to show us things we may have once remembered when we were an 11-year-old, the memories we may have lost, and the new ones that we forge that shape who we are today. With the magic of Pixar’s storytelling, all psychological research, theories, and real-life relationship were turned into an easily digestible and fun narrative, which made it that much more easier for any member of the general audience to understand.

You can really tell that Docter and his team went all out on researching for this film to get a full understanding of how these emotions work. He didn’t just use his relationship with his daughter as the basis for the story, but also used the research from various psychologists and doctors to help write the story. It’s actually fun to see how much of this the kids will react to, and how much the older audience will react to in an animated film like Inside Out.

As for the special features. The Lava short is included, so if you watched the film while it was on its theatrical run, then you would have seen it. So let’s move on to the animated short, Riley’s First Date. The short, directed by Inside Out screenplay writer Josh Cooley, is Pixar’s depiction of how the same five emotions we saw in the first film would react when Riley brings a boy home. Her parents’ emotions are on high alert, as seen by alarms blaring and sirens flashing in Dad’s mind, while mom remains cool and calm to try to figure out if this was indeed Riley’s first date. So while Riley’s mom asks her daughter those “subtle” questions, Riley’s dad hilariously tries to intimidate the skater boy, to no avail, since the boy’s emotions don’t really seem to care. So the short is really more about the supporting characters that we didn’t get to see much of in the main film. As we go to-and-from the characters and their emotions, we really see that Pixar had some fun with this one as they once again give us a story that almost everyone can relate to. It is a really nice addition on Blu-ray, and something that is definitely worth your time.

Other special features include informative pieces like how sound editors created memories being forgotten. The team decided that glass shattering would have more of a negative impact, so they decided on leaves blowing away in the wind. There is also the “Story of the Story” where you learn that it wasn’t easy to pair Joy with another emotion as they journey from long-term memory to headquarters. At first it was Joy and Fear, and that Joy was originally written as a jerk. There is also a fascinating look at the daughters of director Pete Docter and film composer Michael Giacchino, and how their friendship and relationship with their dads not only help shaped the film, but strengthen the bonds between each other.

But the extra I think everyone will appreciate is the “Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out” feature. In it, we listen to interviews of women who worked on Inside Out, from the animators, production managers, and animators, to the cast. It is a very revealing feature as some of those who worked closely on the film tell us that we should never let anyone tell us that we cannot achieve our dreams, and all that we have to do is put our best effort and never stop believing. It’s a very timely bonus, and one that I highly recommend watching. Below is the full list of features for this home video release.

Bonus Features

  • Riley’s First Date? (In-Home Exclusive Animated Short Film)
  • LAVA (Theatrical Short Film)
  • Story of the Story
  • Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out
  • Mixed Emotions
  • Mapping the Mind
  • Our Dads, the Filmmakers
  • Into the Unknown: The Sound of Inside Out
  • The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing
  • Deleted Scenes
    Riley Grows Up
    Joy’s Decline
  • Commentary
  • Mind Candy
  • Inside Out Trailers


Blu-ray Combo Pack Cover Art

Disney Inside Out Blu-ray DVD combo pack cover art

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