Sunday, June 21, 2015

"I Miss Minnesota" - A Review of Inside Out and how it tore me inside out

This is a review for the new Pixar film, Inside Out. Spoilers and adult language ahead. You have been warned.

Inside Out tells the story of 11 year old Riley and her emotions. Riley's family moves from a small town in Minnesota to San Francisco, California and she doesn't handle it very well. However, at the core of Riley's brain are five core emotions, listed from left to right: Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). After the move, which confuses the emotions, Sadness begins changing Riley's memories, including her most important ones, from happy memories to sad memories. In an attempt to stop her, Joy accidentally sends herself and Sadness outside of headquarters, taking Riley's core memories with her and severing Riley from the main parts of her personality. Anger, Fear, and Disgust are left at headquarters trying to save Riley while Joy and Sadness try to make their way back to headquarters. They run into imaginary friends, watch memories fade and get tossed away, ride on the Train of Thought, visit the Dream production studios, survive Riley's subconscious, and strive to return home. Meanwhile, Riley isn't fitting in with anyone and getting into fights with her parents. For Riley's sake and for the sake of our heroes, it is imperative that they return to headquarters.

Needless to say, I loved this film. I spent most of this film crying because of how much I loved it. Particularly, the character of Sadness. Sadness spends most of the film being told by Joy to not touch anything as her touch is the opposite of Midas. So she spends her time feeling like she doesn't have a purpose and that it'd be better if she weren't there. Despite that, she touches the memory orbs because she had never touched them before, but once a memory is sad, it doesn't change back, making her feel like a poison. The whole process of the film is that Joy comes to understand that Sadness does indeed have a purpose: to alert to others that Riley needs help. I love that. (I also really want to cosplay Sadness in an Inside Out cosplay group).

This film means a lot to me for a bunch of personal reasons too: I'm from Minnesota originally (Twin Cities area, but I have visited up north) and my boyfriend is from California and has visited San Francisco regularly. The little in jokes and references that they snuck in, like making Riley a hockey player, or showing traffic on the squiggly brick street in San Francisco, made the film that more real to me. Towards the end of the film when Riley cries about "missing Minnesota", I really felt for her. I moved to Chicago permanently about a year ago and I have felt the same homesickness and loneliness that she felt. I know how it feels to think my Minnesota friends are drifting away. I know what it's like to miss the State Fair or those family trips to the lake. I saw her crying and I cried with her, because I have been there.

Then there's my emotional health: I was laid off from a job that I loved on May 6th. I spent two weeks unemployed until I was swept up by a temp agency and now work at a job that... well, let's say that it's a job that pays the bills and leave it at that. I've always been someone who's been anxious and, recently, have dealt with panic attacks, but after losing that job, I could feel all of my memory orbs turn sad. My outlook, my life, everything was blue. Even with my new job, I still have the blue memory orbs and they have affected my core memories and my personality islands. What this film has given me is not only reassurance that what I'm feeling is normal and, maybe even okay, but it has given me a way to articulate how I feel and explain it to people. Joy even says in the film "once a memory becomes sad, it remains sad." My memory orbs have become more joyous recently, but the blue tint remains and probably will. And that's okay. It's another integral part of my personality islands and that's perfectly okay.

But please don't think the film is all serious, there are some funny moments too: Bill Hader and Lewis Black are absolutely perfect in their roles as Fear and Anger, respectively.

When I heard Lewis Black was cast in the role, I was ecstatic. He was my favorite part of the not-so-good-but-I-still-enjoy-it film Accepted and I had spent many a nighst in my teens Youtubing his stand-up. I think I was more excited about his casting than I was anyone else, if only because casting him as anger is FUCKING PERFECT! He was great, he was hilarious, he was his typical Lewis Black self and I wouldn't have it any other way.

My boyfriend Liam's favorite performance was Bill Hader's as Fear. In his words "Hader understood that fear isn't going AHHHH and screaming, it's in dealing with slight discomforts and being wary." And that really shows in his performance. I don't actually recall if Fear screams. At times he is paralyzed, but mostly he just functions on a consistent basis of nervousness and anxiety. As someone who has anxiety, it's nice to see that portrayed on the screen.

I could go on and on about this movie, but I think I'll leave it here. This film is my new favorite Pixar film (beating out Brave and Monsters Inc.) and had probably worked its way into my top 5 list of favorite films. It's Pixar's fifteenth film and the second Pixar film to feature a female protagonist (Brave was the first). It is a fantastic film and I encourage everyone to go see it. Just bring some tissues with you.

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