Inside Out (2015, some spoilers): 1984 Emotions

inside-out-435 Inside Out (2015, some spoilers): 1984 Emotions


Context: Animated Feature
ZIn: 7
Overall Excellence: 5
Cool: 3
Writing: 4
Visuals: 9
Characters: 2


In the beginning, there was Emotion Prime, the first. And it was joy, and good, Then out of the darkness, others emotions formed. And they were good, too, because they represented all the aspects of the human puppet suit, the machine, the robot. Without little people inside our heads, we would be cold, unthinking monsters, running off to find places that will never give us true solace.


I did not get the feels from this one. Has the Pixar charm actually worn off for me? I don’t question time traveling cyborgs or even toys who become real, and you have to really buy into those concepts for them to work, otherwise you end up with all kinds of questions as to why this and why not that. Pixar is also good with building an elaborate system behind a concept, like in Monsters, Inc. The difference between that and Inside Out is that in Monster’s, Inc, there is a whole larger world, huge aspects that we may see glimpses of, but we’re here to visit one part of that world and that is very evident.

For Inside Out , it is completely self contained, but the niggly questions kept butting their heads in. Where the heck do these emotion creatures come from? And if they have emotions, does that mean they are mere puppets of even smaller emotion creatures? And do those smaller emotion creatures also have emotions, meaning another layer of emotional creatures even smaller. Is this one of those eternal cycles where the smallest part is actually the universe, therefor the largest part as well, and it is one giant loop?

But really, I didn’t think the concept would bother me this much, that little creatures inside our head pretty much control key aspects of who we are (in this fictional version of reality, granted). It is one thing for emotions to be an abstract process, as ingrained into who we are as memory or anything else, but for them to be actual little creatures… living inside our head… pulling our strings. The more I think about it, the more I’m disturbed by this notion. Kind of gives me the willies. This is like 1984 for emotions, except we each have our own big brothers inside our head, pulling our strings.


On top of that, the movie isn’t all that fun. It doesn’t have the fun hijinks of Monsters, Inc, or the heart of Up or Wall-E, all films by the same director. I mean, it tries some of this. But I had a hard time considering the girl as anything but a vessel, so I certainly couldn’t get invested in a robot merely fulfilling what she was commanded to do. And the emotions, kind of have emotions imposed on them to try to make them more than their initial one note guideline. If they were just their one notes, joy is just joy, sadness is just sadness, it would be very hard to build an emotional journey for the audience to follow. I get it. But I couldn’t get the niggly thoughts to stop.

Like… if the child is a baby, how does it have a fully developed JOY who knows how to speak English? Wouldn’t Joy that is born into the baby, be a baby itself? Especially if we follow how different these emotions are depending on the people they are in. Wouldn’t they also be different depending on the age of the person and change as that person develops and grows?

And I’d rather have 1 character with a full range of emotions than 1 emotion creature with imposed emotions on it, so it could immitate a character with a full range of emotions. Does that make any sense? Plus, while I didn’t dislike the characters in this, I also didn’t majorly like them, either. When compared to say, Pixar’s other efforts, the characters in Inside Out seem very understated by comparison. I think they are too mundane, with the exception being the imaginary friend.


The film tries to do fun things with this concept… but sometimes, lifting the curtain to see the Wizard standing there, just some average ordinary bloke with a fetish for theatrics… doesn’t make for the best way to tell a story (even in Wizard of Oz, we don’t find this out until the end). Inside Out is more about showing off the world than anything else, and very convenience driven as well (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it kind of felt like they wrote themselves into a corner and were throwing anything they could at the screen and seeing what stuck, rather than a story that flowed naturally).

Largely, the film is about seeing others for their value, instead of judging them for what they are not… which seems like something I could get behind. But I found it hard to get behind the overly mopey Sadness or behind the overly joyful joy, and yet, they have emotions. The emotions… having emotions. I can’t get past that idea. The idea of being puppeted by little emotional creatures with a heavy leaning toward one strong emotion… just keeps creeping me out.

The movie just prompted me to question it, instead of going along for the ride. What if aliens created these machines and the real beings are the emotion creatures, in symbioses with each other and the machine they inhabit. That might explain why Joy wakes up knowing basic things like English.


Inside Out has a lot of imagination involved, and it tries to be funny and quirky and everything, gimmicky as all hell… but it plays all the notes in a very straightforward way that fell kind of flat for me. I like the overall concept and how the journey of the core memories went from separated incidents to something more united. I liked the symbolism involved in all of that. But with characters I couldn’t really get into and a journey that was.. ok. I don’t know, maybe I’ll watch this again sometime and like it, but I just found myself not pulled into this world.


Oh, and don’t get me started about the opening short film. ‘I lava you’… :facepalm: It was just a dumb concept with a terrible message. If you wait long enough, love will come to you through magic… after you are old and cracking, and it will make you young again, even when you are a stationary island volcano in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, even you, the volcanic island, can have love one day. O.o

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