Monday, 4 January 2016

What if Feelings had Feelings?

Pixar Animation Studios are renown for their high-quality, tear inducing, heart jerking, comedy films. Very few studios, live action or animated, can create films with the emotional resonance that Pixar can create; no one can make us feel like Pixar makes us feel. But this year, Pixar explored our feelings further by personifying them. This is Inside Out.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a typical 11 year old girl. She plays hockey, doesn't like broccoli, and is a complete goofball. These are some of the foundations of her personality formed by her core memories. Inside her head, the formation of these memories, and the way Riley acts, are controlled by five emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Joy tends to run things and all of Riley's core memories glow yellow with joy, or at least until Riley's family suddenly move across the country to San Fransisco and Riley's first sad core memory is formed. Wanting to keep the core memories happy, Joy tries to stop the memory before it becomes part of Riley's personality but instead dislodges all of the core memories and they are sucked into long term memory along with Joy and Sadness. Together, the unlikely duo must make their way back to the control room with the core memories before Riley causes irreparable damage to her relationships and is left emotionally empty, devoid of personality.

From left to right: Bing Bong, Sadness, and Joy

As always, Pixar's animation is still leading the way in 3D, computer generated animation. Inside Out continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the medium. One sequence, when Joy, Sadness, and Riley's old imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind) are passing through the abstract thought area, they are reduced to a cubist incarnation of themselves before being flattened to two dimensions. Pixar's imagination is shown in full force here, creating a whole world inside of Riley's mind that is full of innovative landscapes that, despite their scope, never drift into absurdity. Even the most ridiculous of characters, Bing Bong, an elephant-chicken-dolphin hybrid made of cotton candy with a rocket  powered by song, is treated seriously and plays a pivotal role in the narrative. It would be so easy for a secondary character like Bing Bong to be played for laughs, but Pixar treat all of their creations with care, attention, and development to make sure that their story is as three-dimensional as their animation.

From left to right: Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Joy

After over five years in the making, Inside Out is Pixar's labour of love and it shows. The films has been precisely crafted with equal parts fun, heart, and brain. The production team consulted with psychologists and other experts to ensure their fantasy world fit within the way the mind really works whilst the animators brought this vision to life in a vibrant fashion. The writing, too, is perhaps some of Pixar's finest yet. Not only is it completely hilarious, riddled with smart humour, but it is an extremely moving tale of growing up, dealing with sadness, and coping with change. The level of passion displayed in the production of Inside Out combined with the vocal talent of Poehler, Smith, Kaling, Kind, Hader, and Black, creates a completely remarkable, genuinely entertaining, and utterly moving piece of cinema. It is no surprise that it is now being discussed in terms of educating children about mental health.

Pixar have hit the ball out of the park with Inside Out. After three efforts in a row not quite hitting the Pixar standard that audiences have become accustom to (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University), Inside Out proves that Pixar have not lost what makes them so special and that they are still the most innovative animation company out there.

Best Bit? Aside from the trip through abstract thought, which is a particular highlight, the time spent in dream production, styled as a classic holiday studio, is exceptionally funny.

No comments:

Post a Comment