Lowdown: The imaginative struggle taking place inside a girl’s head after she and her parents move interstate.
Truly imaginative movies are hard to come by. Take The Matrix as an example; I know I’m at a minority opinion, but I always argued that in a world one can imagine anything there is so much more to do than kung fu. Similar arguments apply to Inception. On the other side of the scale we get movies like Tomorrowland that do have imaginative stuff all over but, alas, are just bad at the basics. Against this background, Inside Out stands like a true gem.
The narrative along which Inside Out is based is very simple. A family of three, including loving mother/father/daughter is moving from middle of nowhere USA (Nebraska, if I remember correctly) to San Francisco. From the daughter’s point of view, everything she has known is taken away from her, replaced by the uknown/scary/inferior. The movie is all about how she copes with that, and the bulk of it takes place inside her head, where the various states of mind a person feels are personalised and the various inner workings of the mind are modelled through physical contraptions we are familiar with in our daily lives. Thus the leading characters of Inside Out are Joy and Sadness; memories are represented as bowling balls doing their things in the gigantic/complicated bowling alley that is the brain; the mind is a control centre, not unlike Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).
As I said, imaginative.
This creative idea at the core of Inside Out overshadows its relatively simple narrative (people moving from one place to another) and the fact that, at the core, this is a Disney movie with all the predictability a Disney movie can bring to the table. On the other hand, Inside Out is a kids’ movie, and given the subject matter is so easy to identify with – we all went through scary changes of the type our heroine goes through – it is probably one of the better movies your child can watch (file that last statement under “understatement of the year”).
Overall: Although personally I did not like Inside Out as much, I think it deserves 4 out of 5 crabs for its marvellous imagination and for the way this imagination has been utilised to resonate with children.