Inside Out (2015)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Inside Out</strong> (2015)

(Netflix Streaming, January 2016) Much of the recent criticism of Pixar, in the wake of Cars 2 all the way to Monsters University, has been rooted in the knowledge that for most of its history, Pixar has not only delivered, but over-delivered. Their movies didn’t just have high concepts, they crammed as much invention as possible in those frameworks, to offer sequences never before seen, strong thematic symbolism and deep emotional cues. (Especially in their Ratatouille, Up!, Wall-E, Toy Story 3 home-run.) Their last few films were well executed but far more ordinary. Now here comes Inside Out to bring Pixar back to its former glories: another incredibly high concept, eye-watering emotional moments, and never-seen-before plot points. Consider that it’s a story that almost entirely takes place within a 12-year-old girl’s mind, climaxes on her deciding (or not) to run away from home, celebrates sadness as an essential part of the psyche and plays far differently for kids and adults. It’s nothing short of a tour-de-force and this despite offering a number of metaphors that break down once you stretch them a little. (It’s in the nature of the incarnated emotions and the film’s theory of the mind that you just want to play with the high concept, extend it, try to make it fit in ordinary and ridiculous situations.) Pixar’s technical game is as good as it gets as well, with fantastic animation and a visual motif of “points of light” making up the characters, lending Inside Out a distinctive atmosphere that leaves lesser efforts far behind in sheer polish. As a movie, it’s great but as a reminder of what Pixar can do once it abandons formula, it’s even better.

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