*I first saw this film at a test screening in February, due to the reviews going up for many sites, I've decided to upload my review, originally written shortly afterwards, spoiler-free (for the most part) of course.
This definitely is the most "out there" and weird concept Pixar has ever tackled, which I'm sure was the biggest challenge to overcome, there are so many ways this could have failed, or gotten confusing, yet Pixar knocked it out of the park. Inside Out is the kind of film that not only works as a piece of entertainment, but as proof that Pixar hasn't lost their talent for storytelling, it's that clever and inventive. Hilarious, while also mature in its approach, this is one film that won't only appeal to children, but adults as well; better yet, the children watching this will appreciate it more as they grow, less for nostalgic reasons, but for how much of it isn't dumbed down for a younger audience. Personally though, I think that this is the most visually interesting Pixar film to date, even if I only caught a glimpse of a work in progress version.
While there is a human cast in the film, the cast within Riley's mind are the real stars, providing new characters to add on your list for Pixar's best. Joy is Riley's most dominant emotion, voiced by Amy Poehler, who perfectly creates the optimistic attitude needed in her role; Joy feels a bit similar to Woody in the original Toy Story, but much more likable from the start. Joy's partner in this adventure is Sadness, played by Phyllis Smith, who seems to be channeling her role from The Office, but dialed towards Eeyore levels of depression; she's fun providing some of the best quotes ever uttered by a character who's usually depressed, seriously, I lost it when I heard her thoughts regarding a "dog movie". Everyone is scared of something, but Bill Hader as Fear is pretty spot on compared to the easily scared people I've known, I'm not sure what role convinced Pixar to get him here, but he works, and the design matches the voice, so he was a great choice. For as long as I could remember hearing him , Lewis Black has always sounded angry to me, which makes sense that he'd be Anger, who is my favorite amongst the emotions; Anger gives some of the best lines and reactions found in the film, as well as the emotion who drives the plot as the film progresses. Mindy Kaling joins her Office co-worker as Disgust, a character who seems right at home with her character from The Office, fun, but possibly the emotion who's given the least moments in the film, Disgust feels a bit underutilized, she's still great, but I feel that the emotion being the least broad of bunch might've hindered her role a bit, disgust just doesn't feel that common as an emotion. If there's one character that's been hidden well in the marketing, it's Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary friend, voiced by Richard Kind; he's one of the most uniquely designed Pixar characters to date, while also being a great sidekick, Bing Bong is Olaf done right in my opinion.
As mentioned before, the version I saw was a work in progress version, but the animation felt nearly complete, even if it wasn't the film I saw was gorgeous, from the character designs, to the depictions of various areas of the mind. Speaking of character designs, Bing Bong, as mentioned before, is very unique, which couldn't have been an easy feat given his design as a pink elephant, I know I''m repeating myself, but I just love his design. As for the other characters, the humans are the best designed to date by Pixar, the emotions perfectly capture what they represent, while the other inhabitants of the mind look great, but I wish they hadn't repeated the blob design so much. Substance to the characters beyond design is very appreciated, in a film where a villain could've easily been made, every character comes out feeling real, no sudden change in personality, or diabolical plans, just character driven entertainment. A lack of villain almost sounds like a lack of a threat, but the film still creates tension without resorting to cheap/random choices for the story, it all slowly escalates in a well done manner.
Inside Out is just the film we've needed from Pixar after an absence from them last year, a near perfect film, full of emotion and maturity. While a lot of the film could be changed from the test screening I attended, I think it's safe to say it's a win for the studio, Watch it as soon as you can.
Written By Octaviano Macias