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Inside Out: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Inside Out (2015) movie poster Inside Out

Theatrical Release: June 19, 2015 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Pete Docter / Writers: Pete Docter (original story & screenplay); Ronnie Del Carmen (original story); Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley (screenplay)

Voice Cast: Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Richard Kind (Bing Bong), Bill Hader (Fear), Lewis Black (Anger), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Kaitlyn Dias (Riley Anderson), Diane Lane (Mom), Kyle MacLachlan (Dad), Paula Poundstone (Forgetter Paula), Bobby Moynihan (Forgetter Bobby), Paula Pell (Dream Director, Mom's Anger), Dave Goelz (Subconscious Guard Frank), Frank Oz (Subconscious Guard Dave), Josh Cooley (Jangles), Flea (Mind Worker Cop Jake), John Ratzenberger (Fritz), Carlos Alazraqui (Helicopter Pilot), Peter Sagal (Clown's Joy), Rashida Jones (Cool Girl's Emotions)

Buy Inside Out from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

A full year without a new Pixar movie following three years of the studio's least glowingly reviewed efforts
has certainly made a person hungry for the old magic that made the company stand out among not just animation houses but all makers of films. Fortunately, Inside Out can be considered a return to form for the Disney-owned CGI pioneers. This new film, the third directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), may not compare to Pixar's very best, or more accurately our nostalgia-aided memories of their very best. But it is a supremely original, creative, and enjoyable outing that could only be the work of the Emeryville-based standard bearers.

Inside Out is primarily set inside the mind of Riley Anderson, a happy young girl from Minnesota. Riley is controlled by five different emotions whose names convey their personality and function: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith of "The Office"), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Our lead character is Joy, an efficient gal with a blue pixie cut and a yellow dress. With her at the controls, the majority of Riley's experience are happy ones. Occasionally, one of the other emotions will creep in, prompting the girl to cry or shout. But with two loving parents, a pastime she loves (ice hockey), an active imagination, and a sense of humor, Riley is blessed.

When she turns 11, though, Riley's family moves to San Francisco for Dad's new job. It is not an easy adjustment. The moving truck gets lost, the house is glum, and the local pizza place only serves broccoli pizza. Her first morning at her new school, Riley bursts into tears. It is the rare unhappy encounter to be filed away as a core memory marble, bearing the signature pale blue tint of Sadness rather than Joy's sunny yellow. Try though they may to set things right, Riley's five internal pilots can't get the girl's disposition to its upbeat regular state. In the process of messing around, Joy and Sadness leave the control center and get lost, having to find their way through Riley's overwhelming archive of memories from over the years.

The two rogues try to catch a Train of Thought back to their workplace, but instead encounter danger and Riley's nearly forgotten imaginary friend, the illiterate part-elephant, part-kitten, part-dolphin, all-scene-stealing Bing Bong (Richard Kind), who guides them through the terrain. Meanwhile, the various islands attached to Riley's mind grow unstable as she becomes increasingly homesick.

Pixar's "Inside Out" is set inside the mind of one preteen girl, the domain of five distinct, colorful emotions.

Inside Out emphasizes the unique nature of Docter's storytelling. While he has contributed story ideas to the first two Toy Story movies and WALL·E, all of them delightful and fun, the three films he has both written and directed stand out for the complex universes Docter has built from the ground up. This time sharing screenplay credit with novice Meg LeFauve and rising veteran storyboard artist Josh Cooley, Docter again opts for colorful high concept. By doing so, he spares the film of direct comparisons and claims of derivation.

Inside Out is the film that DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians wanted to be. It finds a compelling team dynamic which that tale of legendary holiday figures working together could not. It also manages to speak to universal childhood emotion and rites of passage more poignantly and poetically than anything Guardians was dishing out. The movie deserves higher praise than simply being placed significantly above than the film that begun DreamWorks' ongoing intermittent commercial rough patch. But there really are few animated films to liken this to, which may be the best thing you can say about a computer-animated comedy these days.

Inside Out reminds us of Pixar's superior imagination. Here is a film that resists convention as much as possible. There isn't an obligatory action climax or any real villain. The movie has a field day not with three-act structure, puns, innuendo, or visual ingenuity, but with human psychology and development. Its exploration of the different types and vulnerabilities of memories is potent and probably academically sound. Its use of memory recalls Inception's experimentation with dreams, inventively turning aspects of the human experience rarely spoken of and frequently taken for granted into sources of adventure, excitement, and humor. A scene in which Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong scurry across Abstract Thought, trying not to be boiled down into mere color and shape doesn't just generate some fun visually but intellectually as well.

Leading Joy and Sadness around is Bing Bong, Riley's fun, nearly forgotten imaginary friend from childhood.

When tackling issues more complex than talking animals/vehicles,
Pixar runs the risk of not getting the all-important children's seal of approval. High-mindedness may have been a factor in the practically silent and commentary-filled WALL·E dropping off quickly at the box office and the uncuddly Ratatouille never catching on to the extent of others. By premiering the film at Cannes (as they did Up before it), Pixar recognizes that the audience for their art goes well beyond young children and their parents. Their work also appeals to cineastes, academics, teenagers, and childless adults. Some of those demographics can't be counted on to buy tickets, but they're essential to earning a complex movie the respect and discourse it deserves.

Inside Out is almost certain to return Pixar to the Best Animated Feature Oscar category they last won for 2012's Brave. It appears to be the frontrunner, with its only real competition likely being Charlie Kaufman's adult-oriented stop-motion Anomalisa. (Then again, Animated Feature is always a little volatile; everyone had The Lego Movie winning last year and it failed to secure a nomination.) Other threats include The Good Dinosaur, Pixar's imminent other 2015 release whose Thanksgiving Eve opening may give it an advantage with short-memoried voters and Aardman's critically decorated but commercially marginal Shaun the Sheep Movie.

As with past Pixar masterpieces, the fact of that matter is that Inside Out should not be relegated to some kids' table on Oscar night. This film absolutely deserves to compete for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Cracking the top category is believed to be more difficult since the Academy switched from a Top 10 ballot to a Top 5 one, meaning voters will need to allocate one of just five slots to this, at the expense of live-action films whose work is easier to see and appreciate to those harboring old industry biases. At this point, I'm holding hope that Inside Out, still my favorite film of 2015, follows in the footsteps of Up and Toy Story 3 and gets Pixar back to the pedestal they again deserve.

The first November since 2004 to send a Pixar movie to theaters is also the 9th in 10 years to bring the studio's summer movie to home video. Inside Out is now available to own in a single-disc DVD, this three-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here, and a four-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition that adds a Blu-ray 3D.

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Inside Out: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), 5.1 DTS-HD HR (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, Descriptive Video Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; BD-only: French
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English SDH, English, Castilian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, French Canadian, German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Three single-sided discs (1 BD-50, 1 BD-25 & 1 DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Ultimate Collector's Edition ($39.99 SRP), as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

In what should come as a surprise to no one, Inside Out boasts top-notch picture and sound on Blu-ray. The 1.78:1 visuals are positively stunning. The studio continues to make strides in animation sophistication and the sharp, colorful compositions are full of detail you're sure to marvel at when watching in 1080p high definition. Sound design is yet another area Pixar puts more into than most other filmmakers. The first rate soundtrack is offered in no fewer than five formats on Blu-ray. English speakers without visual problems will choose between a 7.1 DTS-HD master audio mix and the default 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution mix, based on their system. Either should delight with its crisp dialogue, tasteful atmosphere, and appropriately whimsical score. As usual, those choosing to listen to the French and Spanish dubs have the movie tailored to their language, down to translated onscreen text. For some reason, the bonus disc's extras are subtitled in a host of languages that the film isn't. As usual, Pixar-themed system "maximizer" tests are included in the Set Up menus.

A lonely Hawaiian volcano looks for love in song in the Pixar short "Lava." Riley's father looks over her potential date in the all-new short "Riley's First Date?"

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

A few extras accompany the film on the first Blu-ray Disc.

First up is its theatrical accompaniment, Lava (7:12), a new Pixar short which missed even the shortlist for last year's Best Animated Short Oscar.
This sentimental 'toon tells the story of a lonely Hawaiian volcano who sings of finding a love of his own. I won't spoil whether his wish comes true or not, but this tender effort still does not strike me as one of Pixar's better works, even if it gladly departs from the one-joke design of certain past shorts.

Next up comes Riley's First Date? (4:40), a brand new short created for home video. In it, everyone goes into panic mode when a boy shows up for what might be the 12-year-old's first date. Written and directed by Josh Cooley (who will co-direct the upcoming Toy Story 4), it's amusing, and shows us more of the emotions inside Riley's parents' heads. It does, however, feel a little more like a DreamWorks short than the movie it comes from, with its use of AC/DC and contemporary slang.

Amy Poehler is the most recognizable of the women of "Inside Out" to share her path to Pixar. "Mixed Emotions" shows early concept art for the character who would become Sadness.

The empowering "Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out" (11:22) lets females involved with the production, from Amy Poehler and writer Meg LeFauve down to crew members, discuss how they got to this point in their lives and different positive and negative experiences that shaped them. It's a welcome departure from the usual trivial making-of fluff.

Watch a clip from "Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out":

"Mixed Emotions" (7:17) confirms what you suspected: that the production consulted with neurologists. It also goes into detail regarding the look and design of the emotions.

Disc 1 extras conclude with an audio commentary by director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie Del Carmen. They distinguish the track right at the start by announcing three topics they will most focus on: history, "invisible" story, and cinematography. They thoughtfully tackle these topics not paid much mind by the typical viewer in addition to making some screen-specific observations. Docter admits he was initially opposed to a number of the film's great ideas and the guys also share ideas they discarded. Director of photography Patrick Lin joins them for the cinematography chat, which inevitably gets a tad technical but is finished by the 24-minute mark. They also give Bill Hader a call for a few minutes in the middle of the movie to discuss how he, a huge Pixar fan, became involved even in the writing process. All in all, it's an enjoyable and informative listen that should be cited the next time someone marginalizes animated films as a lesser form than their live-action brethren (I'm looking at you, A.M.P.A.S.).

Writer-director Pete Docter records some story ideas on a selfie video while taking a walk in the woods. "Mapping the Mind" shows the general layout of Riley Anderson's mind.

Next, we move to the bonus features Blu-ray, which like the first disc is, naturally, encoded in HD all the way. The platter's contents are divided into three sections.

First and biggest is Behind the Scenes consisting of six featurettes.

"Story of the Story" (10:30) looks at how Inside Out's ideas evolved. Sharing deleted and revised characters and abandoned turns in concept art, it reveals how many different, less satisfying directions the film could have went. It's valuable insight into Pixar's unrivaled creative process.

"Mapping the Mind" (8:24) tackles production design, namely the logical layout and layers of the film's vast setting: a girl's mind. Filmmakers reveal the thought behind the different locations and designs and how psychologists offered some valuable scientific input.

Composer Michael Giacchino's score creating process is documented by his teenaged daughter in "Our Dads, the Filmmakers." The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing takes us inside Pixar's postproduction process.

"Our Dads, the Filmmakers" (7:25) lets Ellie and Gracie, the teenaged daughters of director Pete Docter and composer Michael Giacchino, make their own little documentary about the film's creation. It's another strong, unconventional inclusion. Ellie wanders around Pixar, while Gracie peeks in on her dad trying things out in his home office and both show up for recording sessions and certain creative exchanges.

"Into the Unknown: The Sound of Inside Out" (7:09) turns our attentions to the sound designers who build the abstract sounds for objects in different realms from the ground up using an array of sources and ideas. It's more interesting than other Foley pieces and it's a subject of value to a film that could add to Pixar's history of sound Oscar nominations.

"The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing" (4:43) tries to shatter misconceived notions regarding how animated films come together, with Docter and various editing team members describing how the film takes shape over a number of years.

Bing Bong lifts Sadness, but not her spirits in this "Mind Candy" gag. The emotions encounter some resistance steering Riley through this deleted schoolyard encounter.

"Mind Candy" (14:26) is a reel of various bits of animation Pixar created to market the film. Recalling the Toy Story Treats made for ABC Saturday mornings, these fun little character gags involve the emotions and Bing Bong
and, being mostly nonverbal, invite a multitude of applications in any culture. For example, I've seen them applied to Disney Parks Photopass pictures.

The second section, Deleted Scenes (16:53), is comprised of five cut bits individually and collectively introduced by director Pete Docter. They are presented in story reel format and show us developed concepts from which the final film departed. They show us emotions steering Riley at school (or trying to), Riley experiencing Take Your Daughter to Work Day (Dad's a technical manual proofreader), an early version of Bing Bong and other forgotten Riley creations enjoying retirement, and another Bing Bong being a cranky train-hopping revolutionary fighting for imaginary creation rights. As usual, there are richer ideas left on Pixar's cutting room floor than what makes it into many of their contemporaries' efforts.

Finally, Trailers holds three items: "Remember" (1:38), "Experience" (2:19), and Japan trailer (2:30). The first one is a nifty teaser devoting its first minute to clips of emotions from Pixar's past triumphs before summoning Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion". The second is a more conventional preview, which utilizes Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold"). The third recalls a Miyazaki trailer, with its solemn beginning, narration, and onscreen symbols.

Inside Out's DVD and Blu-ray main menu distinguishes itself with understatement based on the end credits, as colored circles move across a navy screen.

Continuing to get the short end of the stick from Disney, the DVD only gets Lava and the commentary in the way of bonus features.

The movie discs open with a Disney Movies Anywhere promo, a teaser for The Good Dinosaur, and home video ads for Toy Story That Time Forgot and Tomorrowland.
The Sneak Peeks listing promotes Disney Movie Rewards, the Inside Out playset for Disney Infinity 3.0, and Disney's Aulani resort (using Inside Out characters) before repeating the disc openers.

In a unique bit of design, each disc's main menu floats different colored circles across the screen (a design resembling the end credits backdrop) while an understated bit of Michael Giacchino score plays.

The standard keepcase is held in an embossed slipcover that assigns the second spine to Sadness. Joining the full-color discs inside are a Disney Movie Club ad and your Disney Movie Rewards code. That's right: there is not one of the coupon/ad booklets you usually find inside

"Inside Out" gives us occasional looks at the emotions' vessel: Riley Anderson, a hockey playing Minnesotan who just moved to San Francisco.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With just eight weeks and a few promising releases left, Inside Out remains the best film of 2015 in my book. This fun and imaginative outing brings Pixar close to the lofty heights of their most creative and satisfying masterpieces and well above all the competition (not just of the animated variety). It's a welcome return to form after an off year and a trio of films slightly to extremely below the studio's high artistic standards.

The Blu-ray combo pack is also up to Pixar's high home entertainment standards, complementing a phenomenal demo-worthy feature presentation with plenty of substantial and enjoyable extras. Even if you've cut back on your physical media purchases, this is one set that deserves a spot in basically every collection.

Buy Inside Out from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Pete Docter: Monsters, Inc. • Up
Summer Movies Now on Blu-ray: Tomorrowland • Jurassic World • San Andreas • Pixels • Avengers: Age of Ultron
Toy Story • A Bug's Life • Toy Story 2 • Finding Nemo • The Incredibles • Cars • Ratatouille • WALL•E • Toy Story 3
Cars 2 • Brave • Monsters University • The Good Dinosaur • Pixar Shorts, Vol. 1 • Pixar Shorts, Vol. 2 • Toy Story of Terror!
Big Hero 6 • Rise of the Guardians • Frozen • Wreck-It Ralph • The Lego Movie

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Reviewed November 5, 2015.



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