Film Review: Inside Out

by Sam Robinson

Rated PG. Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader. Directed by Pete Docter.

Two years since Monsters University stomped onto our screens, Pixar is back with a tale with emotions at the fore. Inside Out takes us inside the mind of eleven year-old Riley, as she experiences the change of moving house with her family.

The main players here are Riley’s emotions: Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), as well as Anger (Hader), Fear and Disgust. Each is personified and the result is charming. Seated in a Star Trek-ish control room, the five have control and influence over everything that Riley feels, and Joy asserts leadership in keeping the young girl happy. And as change takes place, the task becomes rather difficult.

Inside Out is a film dealt with very sensitively, and honestly only Pixar could pull this off as well as they have. The world inside Riley’s mind is a wonderful escape (similar to the world of Monsters Inc.) and imagination is celebrated. Perhaps what director Pete Docter has done best is that he manages to make you feel every single emotion as Riley does – which makes for a very interactive viewing experience, much more effective than 3D could ever be. Poehler’s Joy is infectious, and the Pixar tear-welling magic strikes again. There’s some really fun adventures in Riley’s mind, with her part-elephant-part-fairy-floss-part-dolphin imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), and some abstract animation that will make adults beam with joy and laughter. This is a gorgeous film.

Inside Out wonderfully makes us think about our emotions. There aren’t just five emotions inside of us, but many, many more – and God has designed them all. I love that the Bible’s authors feel emotions. They express a wide range from the deepest sadness to the greatest of joys. On days when I’m feeling flat, I like to ponder David’s psalms. The way that he would deal with his despair, time and time again, was to cry out to God. Psalm 143:4-6:

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.

I remember the days of long ago;

I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.

Inside Out reminds us that we are complex beings, and it’s good and right to feel everything from joy to sadness. And the Bible reassures us that no matter our emotions, God loves us and wants us to come to him for help.

Inside Out is Pixar’s best film since Up and will spark plenty of conversation. Why not go along to see this with a friend and have a chat about how we’re wired as human beings, and who is the true designer of how we feel. It’s also a good reminder of how important it is to talk honestly with a close friend about emotional health. Go see this. I’m giving Inside Out four-and-a-half out of five stars.

Inside Out will be released in cinemas everywhere next week.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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