Tag Archives: Pixar

Inside-Out (2015)


Pixar used to be the reliable go-to studio when it came to animation. For ten years they didn’t make a bad film. These days with their last great original film was Up back in 2010, which was followed by three sequels and the dubiously received Brave. With another three sequels scheduled for the years to come, things aren’t looking up. Pete Docter’s Inside-Out, even despite the fabulously uninteresting short that precedes it (Lava), shines out like a beacon in the wasteland of unsuccessful Pixar films. I want to make it clear that I, like everyone else, am human, and as such loved this film and cried from about the point that a certain pink fluffy character leaves the story to the end, however:

Inside-Out sees a union of the new capabilities of photo-realistic CGI with a more retro, colourful style thanks to its dual story structure. The action takes place simultaneously in a realist grey-toned San Francisco where 11-year old Riley suddenly finds herself after a house move and also in her head. Her mind is run by five emotions, personified into glowing fibrous beings. The film is essentially one short narrative about Riley accepting her new home accompanied by an incredibly intricate allegory of the same story. The allegory in fact is so powerful that you come to care about these figments of a fictional character even more than the fictional character herself. The journey of Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) through the furthest reaches of Riley’s mind controls the “real-world” action but is more colourful, more poignant and more alive than the San-Francisco streets that Riley so hates.

The emotional punch of Inside-Out comes from its grace and delicacy. From being an over-bearing dictator in the film’s first act, rejecting anything that isn’t happy, Joy slowly learns to understand and appreciate the value of the other emotions, especially Sadness. It’s a sweet way to understand the loss of childish innocence and the emergence of a subtler, wider personality in the young girl. In one of the best scenes Joy reassures herself by playing an old memory of Riley skating and dances along. Quite apart from the beauty of the shot this scene demonstrates a real care and attention to detail as Riley practices genuine Ice-Skating moves in a very realistic way.

Yet there’s something unsettlingly familiar and safe about this fantastical world of the long-term memory. Who can forget the great chase sequence through airport conveyor belts in Toy Story 2, or for that matter the door warehouse in Monsters Inc.? Well, if you liked complex, illogically large, multi-coloured mechanisms you’re in for a treat because that’s exactly what the long-term memory looks like. Furthermore, while Bing-Bong is undoubtedly the unsung star of this film, his story arc of the loveable companion who accepts that he must leave for the heroine’s own good can’t help but remind us of Sulley and Boo and an altogether more creative and original time.

  • Entertainment: 5/5
  • Artistic:             4/5
  • Intellectual:      3/5

A comment on CGI

Recently I have watched two films which aptly demonstrate the great potential in both range and beauty when CGI is used sensitively and responsibly. Life of Pi and Paperman.

If you haven’t seen Paperman yet you should really go check it out.

What’s so fascinating about these two films is the difference of approach. Life of Pi has used CGI to create some of the most realistic and believable water ever seen on screen, as well as pushing the boundaries of creating lifelike creatures. Paperman however uses the same technology to create a whimsical portrayal of New York rendered in the style of paper cutouts and charcoal. The whole film, partly due to being in black and white seems to be an ink or charcoal drawing brought to life.


I feel like this is a step forwards for film; the pinnacle of realism has been reached for CGI. It no longer needs to be a slave to capturing photorealism but can now move gracefully into being a tool towards a much wider and more beautiful future. I can’t wait to see what appears in the next few years, we can now use computers to make the impossible totally lifelike or to capture the beauty of a charcoal line in motion.

As a sidenote: Paperman has given me much more hope for the future of Disney/Pixar who I’d largely lost faith in given their propensity to throw away their heritage in 2D animation and make mediocre CGI films and even yet more sequels for their classics (The Little Mermaid 3 we’re looking at you). Paperman is not only a brave step forward but a look back into the golden age of Disney.

Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000