Aaron Hahn's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Inside Out
Inside Out (2015)
16 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

There was a time, before 2011, when describing a movie as the new Pixar film was all you needed to say to convince others it was worth seeing. Even the worst Pixar had to offer, Cars, was a thoroughly enjoyable film with memorable characters and imaginative world building. 2010 saw the release of Toy Story 3, which capped off a perfect trilogy with Pixar's most emotionally wrenching film yet, and it looked like Pixar was unstoppable. Then Cars 2 hit. The dull, dumb film exaggerated all the flaws of the first film and centered on a secondary character who only worked in small doses. Pixar was no longer flawless and our hearts were broken. The time since then has been especially difficult. Brave felt too traditional for the usually genius company and behind the scenes drama caused the film to become too simplistic as well. Monsters University had a very powerful message, but was unable to connect on the same emotional level as Monsters Inc. Pixar's planned 2014 release, The Good Dinosaur, ended up getting pushed back over a year due to massive reworkings of the story, and Pixar's golden days suddenly looked far behind them. Therefore, there was a large amount of indifference to Pixar's latest film, Inside Out. Now, I want you to close your eyes and imagine its 2010 again. Good? Now, Inside Out is the latest Pixar film. That's all you should need to hear to tell you that, yes, this film is a masterpiece. Pixar is back, baby, and although you should need no more convincing to see this movie, this review will explain just why this is one of Pixar's best films ever.
Inside Out follows the lives of a young girl named Riley and the emotions inside her head. When Riley's family moves across the country, a conflict within her mind causes Joy and Sadness to become stranded in her long term memory. As Joy and Sadness attempt to return home, Anger, Fear, and Disgust try their best to guide Riley through this tough time.
Pixar is a top form in all areas for this film. The world building is their finest yet. Familiar concepts of how the brain works are imagined in a truly captivating way. The lives and guiding influences of the emotions are clearly illustrated, allowing the conflict inside Riley's mind to have real weight. Joy and Sadness' journey is filled with a constant sense of wonder as we see clever and fun physical manifestations of such concepts as long term memory, abstract thought, and imagination, all animated in the typically gorgeous Pixar fashion. Even the phrase "train of thought" is shown to be exactly that. Pixar is able to use these recognizable elements to make the world feel fully realized. Perhaps its because the audience is privy to various memories from Riley's childhood, but the outside world also feels like a place inhabited by real people. It's also helped by how relatable the situations are to the audience.
There's something in this film for everyone. Riley's experiences will be able to strongly connect to most young children and teens, while the film also gives glimpses into the lives of Riley's mom and dad so that parents are able to connect to it in a way others can't. Meanwhile, the bright animation and humorous moments will keep the younger kids invested as well.
One of the film's strongest aspects is it decision to shy away from a main antagonist. When a new character was introduced around the start of the second act, I was initially worried he was going to take on a villainous role, but luckily his character ending up going in completely different direction. The lack of a clear villain makes the film not only more unique, but more emotionally resonant. In a film about growing up, its good to hear that sometime your biggest enemy can be yourself.
A special shout-out needs to be made for Michael Giacchino's score. The score quickly provides a memorable motif which is cleverly played with through the rest of the film. Its amazing how well the music is able to capture both the feel of the film's world and the powerful emotions that accompany the film. Listening to the score instantly takes you back to the awe you felt while watching the film, and is enough to make you tear up on its own.
If one were to stretch for criticisms, some might feel the film drags slightly in the middle, and Disgust is underutilized, but neither detracts from the overall masterpiece quality of the film.
So, yes, Pixar is back and not much else needs to be said. Gorgeous animation, an impeccable voice cast (The Office's Phyllis Smith is a particular delight as Sadness), a hauntingly beautiful score, and fantastic world building all adds up to a bigger emotional gut punch of a film than Pixar managed with Up or Toy Story 3. Inside Out is easily my favorite film of the year, and one of my favorite films ever. I would highly recommend the film to anyone, especially families and animation fans.