November 1, 2015

Blu-Ray Review: INSIDE OUT

Starring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan. Directed by Pete Docter. (2015, 95 min).

There was a stretch of time when I was starting to wonder if Pixar had finally lost its mojo. They’ve never made anything flat-out terrible, but Cars 2, Brave and Monsters University were kind-of underwhelming. And while Toy Story 3 was admittedly wonderful, you'd have to go all the way back to 2009’s Up for a Pixar film with the distinctive originality and imagination we’ve come to expect.

Which is what makes Inside Out such a wonderful surprise, for me at least. I skipped seeing it in theaters because it looked like just another animated movie produced by what was fast-becoming just another studio. How wrong I was.

The prologue alone is more creative and captivating than anything in Pixar’s last three movies combined, and it only gets better from there. The concept, in which 11-year-old Riley’s five basic emotions (joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust) are personified in her mind, allows limitless creative possibilities. Because at least two-thirds of the film takes place in Riley’s head, the writers, directors and animators allow their imaginations to run wild, making this the most visually-arresting Pixar movie since WALL-E.

"'Pink Elephants On Parade'? Never heard of it."

But Inside Out isn’t just a feast for the eyes. The story itself is compelling and clever, with well-rounded characters both inside and outside Riley’s head, all perfectly voiced by an impressive cast (with Lewis Black as Anger being kind-of a no-brainer). And like the best Pixar films, Inside Out runs the emotional gamut, managing to be, by turns, funny, suspenseful, tragic, rousing and ultimately heartwarming.

This is a Pixar I know and love, and Inside Out is easily their best film in nearly a decade, as visually and narratively original as some of their undisputed classics. Unless Pixar’s own upcoming The Good Dinosaur turns out to be an out-of-body experience, I can’t imagine Inside Out not taking home an Oscar this year for Best Animated film.


Disc 1 (accompanying the film)

  • Audio Commentary by director Pete Docter, co-director Ronnie Del Carmen & director of photography Patrick Lin
  • 2 Animated Shorts: “Lava,” which played with Inside Out in theaters; “Riley’s First Date?”, a brand new short featuring the same characters (it’s hilarious and includes the best use of an AC/DC song ever)
  • “Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out”: Comments and anecdotes from many of the women involving in making the film
  • “Mixed Emotions”: The directors consult real-life experts about how the mind works regarding the emotions characterized in the film

Disc 2 (additional bonus features)

  • “Story of the Story”: Several members of the cast & crew discuss the creation of the story
  • “Mapping the Mind”: The directors, production designer Ralph Eggleston & producer Jonas Riveras talk about how they decided to depict various part of the brain’s memory
  • “Into the Unknown: The Sound of Inside Out” & “The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing”: 2 postproduction featurettes regarding the sound effects and editing process
  • “Our Dads, the Filmmakers”: Featuring the kids of director Docter & composer Michael Giacchino
  • “Mind Candy”: a very amusing series of short sketches featuring the emotion characters
  • Deleted storyboarded scenes
  • 3 Trailers, one in Japanese

Disc 3

  • DVD (a code for a digital copy is also included)

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