Plot: 3D Animated comedy/drama/adventure film from Pixar. Inside 11-year old Riley’s head we see physical manifestations of her emotions (Fear, anger etc) guiding her on how to react. She has a horrible time after moving to San Fransisco, Joy and Sadness get lost and must journey back to headquarters before Riley emotionally shuts down.
Cast/crew: Directed by Pete Docter, starring the voices of Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Bill Hader (Fear), Lewis Black (Anger), Mindy Kaling (Disgust).
Thoughts on the film:
• I was surprised how fresh and daring it is for Pixar to tackle this subject, and in this fashion, it’s remarkably adult for a children’s film. I can easily see how it would be a great learning/growing tool for children. I can’t stress how impressed I was that they did it in the first place, and how well they pulled it off.
• Part of it’s charm is seeing how different concepts are visualised here. Like memories are magic crystal balls (coloured to represent the emotion attached), personality islands, ‘train of thought’ is a literal train; long term memory storage is a series of high, winding bookcases of memories, arranged like the gyri and sulci of the brain. Great stuff.
• It’s paced extremely well and is bursting with creativity, as they go to different parts of Ridley’s psyche, such as Imagination Land (not the South Park one), how dreams are represented (a low-budget TV crew), and abstract concepts. All both interesting and thoughtful.
• It’s also fun to see the personification of basic emotions – each one being their current state permanently (eg Anger is always ready to fly off the handle) and Joy trying to keep the ship steering right. When Joy & Sadness get stranded far away, it’s hilarious to see Anger, Fear and Disgust try to keep Riley happy.
• Animation-wise they’re all stylized caricatures in a world of make-believe, in a brightly coloured, fully-realised environment. Also would translate well into plushies!
• Direction-wise there’s lots of craning, tracking shots which are lovely, giving a scale and importance to new areas.
• The story arc of Bing Bong, Riley’s childhood imaginary friend, is humorous and poignant. He originally was just plodding around long term memory balls as there is no use for him any more. The part he plays in helping Ridley (by helping joy), his greatest accomplishment, is heart-warming.
• I loved how sadness is portrayed and treated by others; that Joy tries to quarantine her (as the least ‘useful’) and makes it more obvious throughout the film. She desperately just wants Riley to have happy memories. It makes complete sense of how important Sadness is and why she’s drawn to turn previously happy memories to sad ones. They could’ve make it more comical by having Joy and Fear or Joy & Anger on the journey together, but Joy & Sadness were the right choice. (Initially Docter had Joy & Fear journeying together, years into production)
• The gimmick of seeing other people’s emotions inside their head is amazing. We get it increasingly more towards the end, and in the credits we get a full random montage – brilliant.
• Sadness being in a cloud and crying so it’s raining is genius. A small nitpick, it looks like they could’ve just used that as transport (she was crying/flying back to HQ). There must be tons of stuff in imaginationland as well! Also, just wait until the morning for the train to power up again and you could’ve avoided a lot of hassle!
• The finish/revelation of the film makes complete sense and is an important lesson about emotions.
And of course:
• I could swear Triple H was in this film. What gives, Pixar?!
• Also, no Randy Orton. Despite him hearing voices in his head. *Cough!*
• Joy, with her blue hair and long green dress, is a young Marge Simpson! HOMAR SIMSAN YOU FUCKIN’ ANIMAL YA!
• All of Riley’s memories are in third person. Is she the most conceited girl in the world? 😉
Bing Bong: There’s deja vu! There’s critical thinking! There’s deja vu!
Sadness (lying on the floor, face down) “I like crying. It helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”
Sadness: “I like Tragic Vampire Romance Island”
Anger: “Congratulations San Francisco, you’ve ruined pizza! First the Hawaiians, and now YOU!”
Fear: “All right! We did not die today, I call that an unqualified success.”
Fear: Maybe it was a bear?
Disgust: There are no bears in San Francisco.
Anger: I saw a really hairy guy, he looked like a bear.
Overall, a thoughtful, refreshingly distinctive story, well-written with a fitting & heart-warming finish. A remarkably adult children’s film. I don’t know if I can recommend this to adults but if this interests you at all, or have children, definitely go see it.
Which emotion was your favourite? Mine was anger. A grumpy old man; his ideas and motivations are all centred around telling people what’s what and flipping out over everything. I also love how Anger’s clip has him using a metal folding chair like a rassler!