Normally I would deem an introduction to Pixar unnecessary. If you’re from our generation your childhood was dominated by “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters Inc.,” and “The Incredibles.” Your parents probably cried along with you as you watched “Toy Story 3,” and you entered college with “Monsters University” fresh in your mind. Pixar’s movies have been an important part of our lives since as far back as we can remember, and it may seem redundant for me to say why they’re such a big deal. But it is worth thinking about the type of movies that they’ve made until now as you watch the latest teaser for their upcoming film, “Inside Out.”
After a montage of previous Pixar works and their memorable scenes, the teaser personifies the emotions evoked by those scenes and places them inside the mind of a preteen girl. In June of this year, it was revealed that her name is Riley, and most intriguingly, she is the setting of the film, not the protagonist. The actual protagonist is Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), who clashes with Sadness (Phyllis Smith) as Riley hits puberty. Meanwhile, Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black) wreak havoc and turn Riley into a confused mess in a literal control room inside her mind.
The question that begs to be asked is how Pete Docter, who was also behind “Monsters Inc.” and “Up,” conceived such an unusually abstract film. “The whole story sparked from watching my daughter grow up,” he said in a preview in Los Angeles. “Also, as we did our research, psychologists told us there is no one more emotionally attuned than a 12- to 16-year-old girl. They are just totally dialed in to read everything — for whatever reason, it’s sociologically true.”
The montage, which consumes the first half of the teaser, shows Pixar’s self awareness of both their popularity and how they earned it. I noticed that every single Pixar movie was featured in the montage, even some of their less popular ones like “A Bug’s Life” and “Brave.” It could just as easily have been a demoreel or an advertisement for the company, and I couldn’t help but feel that Pixar is rubbing in their success.
However the montage also serves to set “Inside Out” aside from their filmography, as if to say “here’s what we’ve made in the past, now check this out.” From what little actual footage is shown in the remaining half of the teaser, I noticed that the emotions are surprisingly depressing, both from our first impression of Riley and the actual characters. Joy (as an extension of Riley) is alone in her struggle against coming of age and the literal Fear that accompanies it, and while Pixar has never been afraid of dealing with heavy subjects, they were never this direct, and definitely never this abstract. Perhaps this is their shot at a film that’s more realistic and hence more relateable in creating a painfully human setting. Considering that the emotions directly handle small bubbles of memories inside Riley’s brain, there is little doubt that the intimacy of “Inside Out” will hit home for boys and girls alike.
“Inside Out” is currently scheduled to be released in June 19th, 2015.
By William Park