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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Inside Out

November 2nd, 2015

Inside Out - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack
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Inside Out

Inside Out was one of the monster hits of the summer earning more than $350 million domestically and $800 million worldwide. This makes it the third biggest hit in Pixar's history. Is it also one of their best? Or was it swept up in the "irrational exuberance" we saw at the box office this summer?

The Movie

The film focuses on Riley; however, Riley isn't the main character in the movie. Instead, the main characters are Riley's core emotions. The first emotion we see is Joy, who is there to make Riley happy. Next up is Sadness, but Joy doesn't quite know what Sadness's job is. Fear, Digust, and Anger all help Riley by keeping her safe, making sure things are fair, etc. All of them have their role in Riley's mind, but it is Joy that is in control.

For the first 11 years of Riley's life, Joy is able to maintain control and Riley benefits greatly from it. Then something happens. Her father gets a job with a start-up in San Francisco. Because of this, Riley, her mother, and her father have to leave Minnesota where Riley grew up and where all of her friends are. Joy keeps Riley optimistic, but the reality of their new home (and the fact that the moving van got lost along the way) means Sadness has a little more power than she usually does. She's able to turn a previously happy memory sad and Joy can't turn it back to happy.

Joy remains optimistic, especially about the first day of school. The school day gets off to a good start. Riley's teacher asks her about Minnesota and Riley becomes really excited about her life in Minnesota. Unfortunately, Sadness touches her memory while Riley is talking and that causes her to really miss her old life and start crying. This creates a core memory, which Sadness tries to put in with the rest. Joy freaks out and in the ensuing chaos Joy, Sadness, and all of Riley's core memories get flushed out of central command. This leaves Fear, Digust, and Anger to try and run Riley's emotions while Joy and Sadness try to get back to central command.

At this point, we run into serious spoilers, so that's where we have to end the plot summary. As for the review, it can be summed up in one sentence. Inside Out is the best movie from 2015 that I've seen. This movie has a greater emotional core of any movie I've seen in a while. I've also read in a number of articles how this film is so good at explaining emotional health that it is being used by some therapists. Inside Out is theoretically a kids movie, but it deals with complex psychological issues better than most films aimed at adults do. Then again, kids likely need this help more than anyone and this alone makes the movie a must see.

It's not the only strength Inside Out has. The film has amazing writing from the characters, to the overall plot, to many of the individual jokes. (There is even a short reference to Chinatown in the movies. There's no kid that is going to get that joke. There are some parents who are not old enough to get that joke.) The voice acting is fantastic and Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith have great chemistry together. Richard Kind shows up later in the movie as Bing Bong... describing his character would be a spoiler, but he is an absolute charm in his role. Even the world design is like a character in this movie and it brings something special to the movie. Add in the technical strengths Pixar is known for and this is a nearly perfect movie.

The Extras

Extras begin with an audio commentary track with the director, Pete Docter, and the co-director / one of the writers, Ronnie del Carmen. The extras also include two short films, Lava, which was shown in theaters, and Riley's First Date, which is about what is says in the title. Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out is an 11-minute short about the women who worked on this film from the actors, to the writers, to the animators, etc. There's a seven minute making of featurette called Mixed Emotions.

This is a really good selection of extras, but maybe a little short for a first-run release. Oh wait, there's a second disc of extras. This disc has two main sections: Behind-the-Scenes and Deleted Scenes. There are six featurettes in the first part, starting with The Story of the Story, a ten-minute look at the very convoluted path the story took from original concept to final product. (Lime potato chips?) Mapping the Mind is an 8-minute look at how the filmmakers tried to make the mind work in the movie. Our Dads, the Filmmakers runs for seven minutes following Ellie Docter and Gracie Giacchino, who are the daughters of Pete Docter and Michael Giacchino, as they try to capture what their fathers do. Into the Unknown is a seven-minute look at how the sound effects are created for the movie. The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing is what it sounds like. A five-minute featurette praising film editors. Finally, there is Mind Candy, which is 14 minutes of animation tests. These are different from the five Deleted Scenes, which are parts of the movie that were made to be part of the movie, but cut, while the animation tests are just short animation clips of characters and such to show the personalities. There are five deleted scenes that run for 17 minutes, with introduction.

The technical presentation is what you would expect it to be: Perfection. If you want to show off your high definition TV or your 7.1 surround sound system, this is a perfect movie to do so. There are no flaws from the level of details, the colors, the shadows, etc. Meanwhile, the dialogue is always clear, while the separation and dynamic effects really draw in the viewers.

I do not have the 3D Blu-ray to judge.

The 3D Blu-ray costs $28, compared to $20 for the Blu-ray and $15 for the DVD. Often times the 3D version costs $10 more than the Blu-ray, so this is a good price.

The Verdict

Inside Out is almost essential viewing for kids, based purely on the way the movie handles emotional health. Add in the story quality, the acting, the technical expertise, etc. and Inside Out is the best movie from 2015 that I've seen. The DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack are loaded with extras and it should be no surprise that it is the Pick of the Week. I don't even have to look at other movies.

Filed under: Video Review, Inside Out, Lewis Black, Ronnie del Carmen, Pete Docter, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Michael Giacchino, Phyllis Smith, Kaitlyn Dias