My love of Pixar has been well documented on this site, and I still can’t say enough good things about their latest film, Inside Out. It wasn’t long into my first viewing that I realized we were seeing a new classic and after multiple viewings, I’m happy to say it holds up, even when you’re not just comparing it to the last couple inferior Pixar titles.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Inside Out takes us inside the mind of an eleven year old girl named Riley and personifies her five primary emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. The possibilities of what can be done with the concept are endless, but writer/ directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen did a fine job of exploring as much of it as possible without losing sight of the narrative or making things too muddled.
Like Wall-E and Up, it has you eating out of its hand in the opening minutes, but unlike those films, it actually gets better as it goes. This is their most sophisticated film to date, which means it may be a little too confusing for kids under 7 or so, but there’s more here for adults than most Pixar films, which always include at least a few winks at the parents they know will be watching with their kids.
For 95 minutes, the filmmakers are able to take command of the control centre in our minds and push all the right buttons to make us laugh and cry along with Riley. Who else but Pixar could make audiences get choked up about an elephant made of cotton candy disappearing?
I didn’t start really collecting Pixar movies until I bought a Blu-ray player, since nothing shows off the HD format quite like their colouful eye popping computer generated images. Since these films are built from scratch on a digital platform, there is no intermediate format when transferring them to a disc, so you can always be sure the sound and images are being presented precisely as the filmmakers intended. I personally don’t think 3D home viewing is up to par yet so I can’t comment on its merits or lack thereof in this case, except to say that I saw in 3D in the theatre and never once missed it while watching at home.
This is what I assume you’re really here for; to find out about the extra goodies you get when you go old school and buy this disc.
As per usual, the film is packaged with its accompanying theatrical short, which in this case was the slightly too sappy Lava, about Hawaiian volcanos in love. We get that Pixar likes to give everything from cars to umbrellas to clouds emotions and personalities, but I think they found their tipping point with this one. There is also an original short which is a spin-off of the film called Riley’s First Date? In this short, we see her parents emotions when the boy Riley meets at the end of the film drops by their house for a visit. It’s cute and brings everyone back (except Bing Bong *sniff*) but it’s not as funny or poignant as anything in the actual film.
Also included on the discs are seven featurettes ranging from about 7 to 15 minutes each. Here we see the proof that Pixar films, particularly this one, are as much for adults as they are for kids, as most kids probably couldn’t care less about the technical and conceptual details these mini documentaries go into. Everyone at Pixar seems to be the best at what they do, and delving into these extras can be like a masterclass in filmmaking. Their emphasis is always first and foremost on story. In Story of the Story we learn a little about the winding five year road this narrative took before reaching its final form. Inside Out deals almost exclusively with abstract concepts, so when you get a room full of creative people trying to visualize these, the possibilities are endlessly daunting. You can tie your brain in a knot just thinking about the different ways this concept could have been handled, it’s almost amazing that they ever arrived at any kind of consensus and that it’s as cohesive as it is. Other featurettes go into the film’s finer points such as sound and editing, the latter of which I certainly have a better understanding of now that I did before.
One featurette which is a little odd is Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out, which features interviews with the women who worked in various capacities on the film speaking about their own personalities, fears, desires, etc. It’s a nice little piece that addresses the hot topic of women in film, but it also drew my attention to the fact that there has only been one female director to work on any of Pixar’s 15 feature films, and looking at their upcoming slate, that’s not changing anytime soon.
Another fun little feature is a video called Our Dads, the Filmmakers which was made by the teenaged daughters of director Pete Docter and composer Michael Giacchino. It almost seems like they were bored on take your kids to work day and decided to play with some cameras, but it’s still a neat perspective and a very original thing to include on a Blu-ray.
The real easter egg on this disc is the commentary by directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen. I call it an easter egg because for some reason they neglected to list it as a special feature on the cover or in any online materials. This seems like a big oversight, for people like me the exclusion of a commentary can be a deal breaker. I was disappointed when I thought they didn’t record one for this ambitious accomplishment of a film and pleasantly surprised when I saw there actually was one. Docter and Carmen are great to listen to as they give further insight into the process while also talking to director of photography Patrick Lin and even calling up Bill Hader at one point.
Less impressive but also not advertised for some reason is a handful of deleted scenes that never got past very basic drawings but are still worth a look. The only thing missing from this disc is the Pixar Studio Stories that they used to include on their home releases. These would take the audio of someone who worked on the film telling a humourous story about its making and animate them with some fun doodles. I’m not sure why they stopped making these, but I’d love to see them make a return.
Does this deserve a spot on your Dork Shelf?
You have to give Disney credit for always doing it right the first time, so you don’t need to worry about having to double dip with multiple editions. Their Blu-rays usually come at a premium price and rarely go on sale, so there’s no need to wait, buy Inside Out now!