Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lava (short)/Inside Out

Directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen and screenplay by Docter, Meg LaFauve, and Josh Cooley from a story Docter and del Carmen, Inside Out is the story about five figures representing different emotions who observe a young girl who copes with moving to a new city as they embark onto an adventure. The film explores not just a family dealing with a new move as it is largely told by emotional spirits who observe everything that is happening in these ongoing changes in life. Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Kyle MacLachlan, Diane Lane, and Kaitlyn Dias. Inside Out is a compelling yet evocative film from Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen.


Written and directed by James Ford McMurphy, Lava is a musical short film that revolves a volcano falling in love. It is a simple short story where a volcano is singing to find someone to love as he often sees two of everything while being unaware that there’s a volcano under the sea looking for him. It’s a visually-exhilarating and evocative short film that features the voices of Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig as these volcanoes as they both sing the song continuously which is presented in a traditional Hawaiian presentation. The result isn’t just one of Pixar’s finest shorts but also a love story that manages to be so much more.

Inside Out

The film revolves around the five emotions inside the mind of a young girl as she copes with moving from Minnesota to San Francisco as things go wrong prompting two key emotional figures to retrieve some core memories that define this young girl. It’s a story that is about a young girl growing up and coping with changes in her life as she struggles to adapt to her new situation only to act out in ways she couldn’t understand. Most notably as her two main emotions in Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) struggle to retrieve core emotions from a world of long-term emotions where Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), and Anger (Lewis Black) are forced to take over where things go wrong. Even as they would try to do something to make her happy again but realize that all five emotions need each.

The film’s screenplay does start off with the birth of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and the emergence of Joy who would be the leader of controlling Riley’s emotions as she is later joined by Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger. Joy would also make sure that Riley’s most important moment would emerge as they would represent core memories and special islands that represent her personality. When Riley is forced to move from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents (Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane), things become complicated where Joy tries to maintain control but an incident where Sadness touches a core memory orb would trouble things as an attempt to discard it would force Joy and Sadness out of their headquarters and into the world where Riley’s long term memories are at. The script doesn’t just have elements of adventure but also drama and humor as there is a balance to the many things that occur in the film. Most notably as the five emotional figures are well-rounded characters who are just trying to manage a young girl’s emotional state.

The direction of Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen is quite vast in not just their approach to the world that Riley and her family is in but how it’s viewed from her emotional figures. It is presented with a richness in the 3D-computer animation style as it plays into not just the world that these characters are in but also what they need to do. Though much of what Riley experience is controlled by Joy, the sense of curiosity from Sadness would be the catalyst for what is to come. Most notably as it plays into the sense of change that Riley would encounter in San Francisco ranging from all sorts of things include veggie pizza, not having things at the home already, and not feeling the need to play hockey. It plays into not just a girl growing up but finding herself at odds with her surroundings as she becomes moody where Anger, Disgust, and Fear try to make her happy but a lot of comical hi-jinks ensue and more.

The direction also plays into some very strange moments where Joy and Sadness meet with an old imaginary friend of Riley in Bing Bong (Richard Kind) where they try to catch a train to the headquarters as the stop into a world that is literally abstract. It plays into things that these emotions aren’t able to comprehend as they’re growing along with Riley where Joy is forced to come to terms that she can’t control everything. What would happen wouldn’t just be moments that are very emotional but also some realization that all of these emotions have to be together help develop a person in its growth despite all of the growing pains this young girl would go through. Overall, Docter and del Carmen create a sprawling yet riveting film about a group of emotions watching the development of a young girl.

Editor Kevin Nolting does excellent work by going for something straightforward with some montages for the film‘s opening pre-credits sequence that plays into the life of young Riley. Production designer Ralph Eggleston and art director Bert Berry do amazing work with the look of the headquarters where the emotions do their job as well as the land outside of headquarters and the dark abyss in between. Sound designer Ren Klyce and sound editor Shannon Mills do fantastic work with the sound from the sound effects that occur in the world outside of headquarters as well as the places that Riley goes to. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino does brilliant work with the film’s music as it features an orchestral score that is very playful as well as some quirky elements that play into its humor and themes to play into its sense of despair.

The casting by Natalie Lyon and Kevin Reher is incredible as it features voice work from Pixar regular John Ratzenberger as a cloud, Bobby Moynihan and Paula Poundstone as a couple of forgetters who suck out fading long-term memories, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea as a mind-worker cop, Frank Oz and Dave Goelz as a couple of security guards, Paula Pell in a dual role as a dream director and the mother’s anger, Josh Cooley as the fear manifestation in the form of a clown, Lori Alan as mother’s sadness, Pete Docter as father’s anger, Rashida Jones as a cool girl’s various voices of emotions, and Carlos Alazraqui in a dual voice role as father’s fear and an imaginary Brazilian helicopter pilot. Richard Kind is terrific as the voice of an old imaginary friend named Bing Bong who helps Joy and Sadness find their way back as he also hopes that Riley would remember him. Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane are superb as Riley’s parents who deal with Riley’s sudden moodiness as it relates to their new living situation and changes in their life. Kaitlyn Dias is amazing as the voice of Riley as an 11-year old girl who deals with growing pains and changes in her life as Dias brings a realist approach to anyone who has deal with growing pains in that age.

Lewis Black is brilliant as Anger as he represents someone that knows when to push buttons as he comes up with a plan that he thinks will get Riley to become happy. Bill Hader is hilarious as Fear as someone who is constantly scared as he always list things that should go wrong on a certain day. Mindy Kaling is excellent as Disgust as a manifestation who makes Riley say no to broccoli and other things while giving Riley things not to like. Phyllis Smith is phenomenal as Sadness where Smith brings a lot of emotional weight and curiosity to the role as it adds a balance to Riley’s emotional turmoil. Finally, there’s Amy Poehler in a remarkable voice performance as Joy as the upbeat head of emotions who tries to maintain some control unaware of how troubled Riley is in her growing pains forcing her to grow up a bit as it’s that great mix of humor and realism in Poehler’s voice.

Inside Out is a tremendous film from Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen as it is definitely one of Pixar’s finest films. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore the idea of growing pains but also one that is told through various emotions that try to cope with changing times and changing worlds. It’s also a film that manages to be so much in terms of bending genres as well as be something that kids and adults could relate to in terms of growing up and change. In the end, Inside Out is a magnificent film from Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen, and Pixar.

Pixar Films: Toy Story - A Bug's Life - Toy Story 2 - (Monsters Inc.) - (Finding Nemo) - The Incredibles - Cars - Ratatouille - WALL-E - Up - Toy Story 3 - Cars 2 - Brave - Monsters University - The Good Dinosaur - (Finding Dory) - (Cars 3) - Coco - Incredibles 2 - Toy Story 4 - (Onward) - Soul (2020 film) - (Luca (2021 film)) - Turning Red - (Lightyear) - (Elemental (2023 film)) - (Elio (2024 film)) - (Inside Out 2) - (Toy Story 5)

© thevoid99 2015


Ruth said...

I'm actually not that fond of the LAVA short, I still prefer the others like The Birds, Umbrella, etc. But Inside Out is tremendous indeed, definitely one of Pixar's best. It's funny and heartwarming w/ a wonderful family message.

thevoid99 said...

@Ruth-I think Lava is an excellent short but it's not as good as some of the ones I've seen before but still fun. Inside Out is in my top 5 Pixar films and if I had seen it earlier. It would've made my 150 Favorite Films of 2000-2015 list. Maybe I'll do a list of 200 films in the next five years or something like that.