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The Pixar Theory: How ‘Inside Out’ Fits In The Pixar Universe

inside out disappointing

Take her to the moon for me. Okay? 

The Pixar Theory, or “Grand Unifying Theory of Pixar movies” if you want to be more intense, is a fan theory I wrote in 2013 about how every single feature film made by Pixar Animation Studios is intentionally set in the same universe. Or unintentionally, if you believe in miracles.

pixar theory inside out
Dan O’Brien

I was inspired by an episode of the Web Series, “After Hours,” on Cracked.com. In the episode written by Dan O’Brien, the After Hours crew discusses, at length, how a few of the Pixar movies may secretly be about the apocalypse. They address Toy StoryWALL-E, and Cars before giving up because they can’t find a way to connect the films any further.

So I took that as a challenge.

Over the following year, I developed my own theory on how all the movies connect, and the results have been surprisingly epic. People from all over the world have read the theory, and many of you have been having ongoing discussions in the comments that go way beyond anything I first imagined (trust me, I read all of them).

Now, two years later, it’s time to see where we’re at as we welcome a new Pixar movie to the world: Inside Out.

pixar theory part 2

First, it’s important to point out that the theory itself has changed dramatically over the years. A lot of people have called out flaws and underdeveloped points of the theory that make it fall apart for them. I’ve read the feedback and spent the last two years writing a book that fully fleshes out my original theory. It addresses pretty much every major complaint and issue that “debunkers” have thrown at it. And it does this in about ten chapters.

Every chapter follows a specific movie (some are lumped in together, like the Cars franchise). I talk about the context of the movie as it relates to this theory, where it fits in the grand timeline, and how each movie contributes to the idea that these movies exist in the same narrative. And yes, I go way beyond the easter eggs.

My book is available now on paperback and all e-book stores. Hope you guys like it!

pixar theory book

But let’s get back to the main task at hand. Let’s talk about how Inside Out masterfully fits within the idea that all of these Pixar films are connected. What you’re about to read is set up like how I wrote the chapters for my book, so if you like what you read, then that may be a sign that the book is for you. Consider this your sample chapter, if you will.

Obviously, many spoilers are ahead, so read at your own risk. I highly recommend that you watch the movie at least once before reading this, especially since it’s pretty fantastic. You’ve been warned.

THE SET UP.

pixar theory part 2

Inside Out is the story of a young girl struggling to grow up, seen through the eyes of her emotions as literal beings. Yes, Pixar made a movie where feelings have feelings.

The movie opens with the birth of Riley Andersen. The first thing you may notice is that she shares the same last name as Bonnie Anderson from Toy Story 3 and the subsequent shorts based on that movie. That may tempt you into believing that Riley and Bonnie are connected somehow, but that’s definitely not the case since their names aren’t spelled the same way.

For context, Pixar named Bonnie after two people: Bonnie Hunt (a frequent voice actor for the Pixar films) and Darla K. Anderson, the producer of Toy Story 3. Darla actually has easter eggs for her name dating all the way back to A Bug’s Life, where you can catch her first name on a box in “Bug City.”

Anyway, we learn early on that Riley grew up in Minnesota, but her family moves to San Francisco when she’s 11 years old. Now it’s true that Bonnie lives in Tri County, around the corner from Andy, and Tri-County does take place in the Bay Area of California. But that’s really just a coincidence. Riley’s family never mentions that they have relatives around, and they only moved to San Francisco for her dad’s job. For that reason, all signs point to this being a coincidence.

WHEN DOES THE MOVIE TAKE PLACE?

pixar theory part 2

Moving on, we get to know Riley through a montage of her early life. When we get to the point where she’s 11, it appears to be modern day. Much of the technology we see throughout the movie — like a Skype surrogate that closely resembles the one used by Trixie in Toy Story 3 and the presence of smartphones — point to this being a film set in 2015.

That means Riley was born in either 2003 or 2004, depending on her exact birthday. Interestingly, that would mean the movie opens during the same year as Finding Nemo. 

We also know that this has to be some time after 2007, which is when Ratatouille takes place. In fact, Inside Out actually confirms that Ratatouille takes place in 2007 instead of 2004, which is a conundrum I ran into while writing the book. It’s all based on the blurry date seen on Gusteau’s will and…eh, don’t worry, it’s not important.

pixar theory part 2

Anyway, the reason we know that this is some time after Ratatouille is because you can see Colette Tatou on the cover of a magazine in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it easter egg. Judging by the prestige of this magazine, Colette has done well for herself during her years learning from Remy and working at La Ratatouille, the bistro she started with him and Linguini.

After all, why would she be on the cover a magazine before her adventures in Ratatouille? Before she met Linguini, she was just a hardworking chef trying to build a career at a failing restaurant. I find it much more plausible that she’s created a name for herself under the tutelage of the best chef in France.

(DONALD GLOVER VOICE) MY EMOTIONS!

pixar theory part 2

So as we get to know Riley in the film’s early montage, we meet her emotions. The film immediately takes us inside her head, where we watch Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger team up to influence Riley’s actions. They work in “Headquarters” (get it?) and use a mysterious console to control Riley’s decisions.

When an emotion manages to elicit a meaningful experience in real life, a memory is generated and sent to Riley’s long term memory. If it’s a specifically powerful experience, then it will create a core memory that will stay in Headquarters.

It’s somewhat confusing, but Pixar does a great job of explaining this better than I can. They use subtle techniques and cleverness to make the inside of Riley’s head immediately unique, while also incredibly believable.

pixar theory part 2

For example, the memories are shaped like “marbles” because without them, Riley would lose her marbles.

This is a fun movie.

The plot of Inside Out focuses on Riley being uprooted to a new home in San Fransisco and how this negatively affects her emotions. She misses her friends, never sees her dad anymore because of his new job, and feels pressured to just “be happy” all the time. This causes her to repress her sadness, which eventually causes even more problems.

CONNECTIONS AND MISFIRES…

pixar theory part 2

There’s another fun cameo during this part of the movie. We see a rat that looks a lot like Remy, which is just a fun reminder that Pixar animation transcends the multiple stories they tell. And we also see memories that feature other Pixar characters. You can see Carl and Ellie’s wedding from Up for example.

A good reason for that could be that Riley saw a tape of this wedding at some point, though that would have to be a very old home movie. It could be a picture, since we see a camera in the first frame of that scene in Up. In that case, Riley could have seen that picture and imagined the wedding herself. This has led a lot of people to think that Riley could somehow be related to Carl and Ellie, which would be quite a stretch.

That’s because Carl and Ellie sadly never had kids, so Riley would have to be a distant relative. If she knows about the wedding, then she’s probably met some of this family, but we know in those early scenes of Inside Out that Riley is visiting California for the first time. She thought the Golden Gate bridge was actually golden, after all.

pixar theory part 2

You could argue that people from this family went to Minnesota to visit her, but I’m not really convinced. Personally, I don’t think we’re able to know just yet, though one theory I have is that she had a teacher or friend’s parent who is somehow connected to Carl and Ellie. A future Pixar movie may shed light on this.

Some people even want to believe that Riley is Boo from Monsters Inc.,or Andy’s mom. Seriously. Look, Riley is Riley. She’s not anyone else, and trying to force these connections is missing the point. For example, the primary reason people think Riley is Boo is because when she’s shown as a toddler, she’s wearing the same hair tie/scrunchy thing that Boo wears in Monsters Inc. 

riley boo

They both even have pig tails. If you’re fixated on them being one in the same, then you miss the cooler reveal, which is that Riley was growing up around the same time as Boo (Monsters Inc., takes place in the early 2000s), so of course that style and those hair ties were popular.

As for Riley being Andy’s mom…I mean that’s way too much of a stretch, even for a limo.

riley andy's mom
Besides the eyes, nose, time period, and basic facial structure, they’re exactly alike! Sigh.

HUMANS ARE BATTERIES…

A main theme of the Pixar Theory is the idea that humans emit this strange energy that we see all throughout the films. In Monsters Inc., we learn that the laughter of a child can be harvested as energy for a society of creatures that mysteriously know how to use it. In The Incredibles, this energy is seen tangibly through the exploits of super-powered humans who can do amazing things.

Part of my Pixar Theory (the updated version) is that humans power the toys in Toy Story because they’re built to collect energy by the machines from The Incredibles. The book goes more into detail, but the basic idea is that the machines know how to use human energy as a battery, which carries on as a strategy all the way to the future, when monsters have to go back in time through doors to access this energy because no humans are left thanks to WALL-E. 

But all this time, I’ve wondered why Pixar seems so infatuated with this idea of imagination being a raw power. And Inside Out addresses this pretty head on. The whole premise of the movie is that our emotions (as seen in Monsters Inc.,) are what truly power our actions. And the most powerful emotion for a child is Joy, as seen by Joy being the de facto leader of Riley’s emotions. Most of Riley’s memories are positive, and this is because Joy is inherently a strong emotion for many children.

pixar theory part 2

The monsters of Monsters Inc, use fear, which can be another strong emotion for some kids, to power their society, but they eventually learn that laughter from joy is far more effective. And why is that? Well, Inside Out explains that joy is one of the first emotions we experience. Joy, the character, is a literal light source. She’s fast, tough, and clever. And she’ll do anything to make Riley happy. The other emotions in comparison are much more passive.

A lingering question in Monsters Inc., is why adults are so difficult to scare. Inside Out sort of answers that by showing how the inside of adults’ minds work. They’re more emotionally balanced, for example, so you don’t see one emotion overpowering the others. When we see inside the heads of Riley’s parents, the emotions don’t bicker like they do in Riley’s head. Instead, they all work together to accomplish the same goal.

But that’s not all. No, no, no. There’s something even better hiding in the dark of this movie that serves as the biggest “Aha!” moment I’ve had since I carefully re-watched Brave and Monsters Inc., back to back.

And it has to do with this guy, Bing Bong.

BING BONG! BING BONG!

pixar theory part 2

Bing Bong is Riley’s imaginary friend. Joy and Sadness meet him halfway through the movie, and he helps them navigate Riley’s mind as they try to return to Headquarters. When Riley was three, Bing Bong was her best friend. He’s part cat, part elephant, and part dolphin. He’s made of cotton candy and, naturally, cries candy. He even has a wagon that can fly when powered by songs…

(humans=batteries).

So what’s the big deal? Why is he important?

Simple. Bing Bong is an imaginary friend, yes. But he’s based on a monster. Riley’s monster from when she was three.

At the end of Monsters Inc., Sulley and Mike decide to make kids laugh instead of scream because it generates more energy and is less messed up. We even see Mike go through a door and perform standup comedy for a child.

pixar theory part 2

But wouldn’t this leave a kid feeling traumatized? Imagine a monster coming through your door, making you laugh, and then disappearing forever. This would make no sense unless…children perceive these new monsters as their imaginary friends.

Bing Bong was a monster who went through Riley’s door and made her laugh when she was three. We know that monsters have animal characteristics, explaining his part-cat/part-elephant appearance. And of course Riley thinks he’s made of cotton candy. Why else would he be pink? I’d even argue that he makes dolphin noises to make Riley laugh, causing her to think he’s part dolphin, too.

pixar theory part 2

This all makes perfect sense if we’re to believe that well-adjusted kids in Pixar movies grew up meeting monsters in their rooms late at night. And it’s further helped by the fact that in Riley’s subconscious, she’s afraid of clowns, not monsters.

And think of it this way. Isn’t it pretty easy to picture Bing Bong living in Monstropolis?

I have plenty more to say about all of this, but those are the major points. If you want to keep digging, you can read another exploration I did of this movie that goes somewhat more into detail. The gist of it is that Bing Bong is life.

There are more easter eggs for the movie listed at the bottom, but that’s the basic rundown of how Inside Out fits into the Pixar Theory. If you think of something interesting to add or have a compelling question to ask, fire away! Just please…don’t ask if Big Hero 6, a Disney movie, should be in the Pixar Theory…

Ready for more?

The conspiring doesn’t end here. Check out my other Pixar Theory posts from infinity to beyond:

  • The Pixar Theory – the full book available on paperback and ebook via Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or just a PDF. This will cover the entire theory and every movie in the Pixar universe, updated from what you just read.

EASTER EGG ISLAND!

  • There’s a globe in Riley’s classroom that has been shown in every single Toy Story film.
  • Some of the cars in San Francisco have bumper stickers from the Pixar movie, Cars.
  • Bing Bong disturbs a cloud person in Imaginationland, and he looks a lot like the cloud from the Pixar short, “Partly Cloudy.”

  • Also in Imaginationland, you can see a board game with a picture of Nemo that says “Find Me.”
  • One of Riley’s classmates wears a camo shirt with Toy Story characters on it. Well, their silhouettes, at least. It even looks like Arlo from The Good Dinosaur is on there as well. There’s even a popular girl at the school with a skull t-shirt in the same fashion as Sid’s from Toy Story, just in a different color. The 90s are making a comeback!

  • A banner in Riley’s hockey rink showcases a team from Tri-County, which is the setting for Toy Story. I explain this easter egg further in a different article.
  • Blink and you’ll miss a “For the Birds” cameo during Riley’s road trip to San Francisco in the beginning of the movie. It’s just like their appearance in Cars.
  • As always, the animators included ample A113 references. I’ve heard there’s more than one, but the only one I saw personally was A113 as the number of Riley’s classroom.
  • If you look closely at Riley’s Chinese takeout box, you’ll notice it has the same design as the one from A Bug’s Life (pictured below). Those familiar with the theory know that this could be because the same restaurant exists in both movies, so naturally there’d still be remnants of these takeout boxes hundreds of years later during Flik and the gang’s adventures.

inside out pixar theory


Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

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Review: ‘Inside Out’ Is More Than Some Feelings

I’ve written a more comprehensive review for Inside Out elsewhere, but I thought it would be fitting to craft a shorter review for this site’s readers, many of them being longtime fans of Pixar Animation Studios.

Yes, Inside Out is the latest Pixar feature. It takes you inside the head of an 11-year old girl and tells you her story through her five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.

Directed and produced by the team behind Up, this new story is all about the struggles of growing up. Its lessons aren’t cliche, however, in that the final message isn’t simply “do whatever makes you happy.” This is a staple of children movies that Inside Out rightfully tosses in favor of emotional truth.

inside out review

The movie doesn’t pull its heart-wrenching punches, but it’s also decisively clever and humorous. I haven’t laughed this much during a Pixar movie since Finding Nemo, which I consider Pixar’s funniest film ever. For that reason and others, I consider Inside Out Pixar’s overall best movie since Finding Nemo, and I’ve heard many say that the movie even surpasses that level of praise.

It’s easy to give Inside Out a little too much credit. Many of us have been yearning for an original Pixar feature of this caliber for years, and I’ll admit that I wanted this movie to be good. But I know myself, and I think I’m giving Inside Out the proper amount of praise based on both viewings I’ve had of the film so far.

Grade: A.

This is due to some minor nitpicks I have, including a missing antagonist for the movie and some of the film’s over-reliance on themes from other Pixar movies. If you’re curious about the score, then you can check out my full review on Moviepilot, where I discuss the film in detail.

Extra Credits

  • Yes, the movie will likely make you cry, so I suggest you pick a 3D showing that will hide your eyes.
  • Richard Kind voices Bing Bong, who has some of the film’s biggest laughs, next to…
  • Anger. Lewis Black killed it as my favorite emotion of the bunch.
  • I watched this movie in San Fransisco, which is where the movie takes place. This hyped up the setting for me, in that I recognized some of the locations they took right out of the map. I confirmed this with Ralph Eggleston, the art director, when I met him a few months back. Great guy.
  • LAVA is a fun short, especially if you love the ukulele as much as I do. For that reason, it’s a lot higher on my list of favorite shorts than some others, but I also didn’t love Blue Umbrella as much, so my opinion is weird.
  • Yes, this fits into the Pixar Theory. More on that later.

Inside Out was directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen. It was produced by Jonas Rivera and stars Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Lewis Black (Anger), Bill Hader (Fear), and Kaitlyn Dias (Riley).

The Official Character Descriptions for ‘Inside Out’ Are Brilliant

inside out character descriptions

From Stitch Kingdom:

JOY (voice of Amy Poehler)
Joy’s goal has always been to make sure Riley stays happy. She is lighthearted, optimistic and determined to find the fun in every situation. Joy sees challenges in Riley’s life as opportunities, and the less happy moments as hiccups on the way back to something great. As long as Riley is happy, so is Joy.

FEAR (voice of Bill Hader)
Fear’s main job is to protect Riley and keep her safe. He is constantly on the lookout for potential disasters, and spends time evaluating the possible dangers, pitfalls and risk involved in Riley’s everyday activities. There are very few activities and events that Fear does not find to be dangerous and possibly fatal.

ANGER (voice of Lewis Black)
Anger feels very passionately about making sure things are fair for Riley. He has a fiery spirit and tends to explode (literally) when things don’t go as planned. He is quick to overreact and has little patience for life’s imperfections.

DISGUST (voice of Mindy Kaling)
Disgust is highly opinionated, extremely honest and prevents Riley from getting poisoned — both physically and socially. She keeps a careful eye on the people, places and things that Riley comes into contact with — whether that’s broccoli or last year’s fashion trend. Disgust always has the best of intentions and refuses to lower her standards.

SADNESS (voice of Phyllis Smith)
None of the other Emotions really understand what Sadness’s role is. Sadness would love to be more optimistic and helpful in keeping Riley happy, but she finds it so hard to be positive. Sometimes it seems like the best thing to do is just lie on the floor and have a good cry.

Unfortunately, Pixar hasn’t released the official character bios for any of the human characters, like Riley and her parents, as well as Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong.

But I absolutely love the ideas behind each of these characters, especially Fear, Anger, and Disgust. When you watch the trailer, it’s easy to find these emotions less “important” because they mess everything up without Joy and Sadness around. It’s sort of easy to look down on them for being themselves.

These character descriptions go a long way toward generating real depth to these emotions. Anger isn’t just angry because he’s voiced by Lewis Black. He has a real interest in making sure the world is “fair” for Riley. Fear is simply trying to protect her. In the same way, Disgust preserves Riley’s true sense of self. That’s just good writing.

inside out character descriptionsInterestingly, Sadness is the least fleshed out, which is surely intentional. Her motivations are something we’ll have to see pan out over the course of about an hour and a half. Is it June yet?

Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

Are the ‘Inside Out’ Parents Shameful Stereotypes?

After I watched the first trailer for Inside Out yesterday, I noticed a pretty alarming trend in the trailer’s discussion. People are complaining that the characters (Riley’s family) are gender stereotypes and one-dimensional caricatures.

Some are even claiming the movie is sexist…against both genders.

Specifically, people are whining about how the mother is a typical “sitcom” mom who is in touch with her emotions, while the dad is distracted by sports and is inattentive.

Fair enough, let’s talk about this. First, we should watch the trailer again to review (and because it’s awesome):

Is this a typical “sitcom” family?

Well, yeah. That’s the entire point.

This isn’t even all that different from the dinner scene in The Incredibles. You know, the scene where Bob could barely pay attention, while Helen was trying to sort out the problems Dash was having at school?

But this time around, we’re actually in their heads. So it’s a problem now. You see how that’s just a bit unfair?

If we judged The Incredibles the same way from just that one scene, we’d have to say that Bob and Helen Parr are just stereotypical characters, even though that’s completely not the case if you actually watch the whole movie.

The same goes with Inside Out.

Guys, it’s a trailer. We’re supposed to be able to relate to each of the characters, and the reality is that in real life, parents tend to be like this. Deviating from this narrative formula is what dramas do, not comedies.

If the dad was the one being all touchy feely in this scene, you know what would happen? You wouldn’t believe it. There’d be no immersion. Sorry, but guys tend to be oblivious and in their own little world after a long day.

“Well Pixar is lazy for relying on these stereotypes,” you may argue.

But you have to start somewhere.

Pixar isn’t “lazy” for writing these characters in this way. They’re smart. If you start with a character who is already an enigma, who is supposed to be the film’s center, then there’s no possible way for that character to grow. With Riley and her parents, we’re seeing them in the early stages of the film’s narrative, and it’s nonsense to criticize Pixar for not doing something you’re not even sure they’ve done yet.

So the real question isn’t “Are they stereotypes?” The question should be, “Are they interesting?” And after watching that trailer, I believe that’s a solid yes.

What do you think?

“Inside Out” opens in theaters June 19, 2015.

The First Inside Out Teaser Is Pretty Much Everything You Want.

Details surrounding Pixar’s next big film (and first original since Brave) have been scarce to say the least. But that’s changed with the release of the first ever teaser (and footage) of Inside Out. It begins with an extended look at some of Pixar’s greatest hits and explores the idea of what makes us love these movies to begin with: emotion.

Check out the full teaser below:

Inside Out comes to US theatres in 3D on June 19, 2015.

From an adventurous balloon ride above the clouds to a monster-filled metropolis, Academy Award®-winning director Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”) has taken audiences to unique and imaginative places. In Disney•Pixar’s original movie “ Inside Out,” he will take us to the most extraordinary location of all—inside the mind. 

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

New Featurette Shows Off First-ever Footage of Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’

It was a long time coming, but we finally have some great footage of Inside Out to gawk out at.

The footage comes courtesy of the Disney Movies Anywhere app, which means I can’t share the full thing here. But thanks to ScreenCrush, you can view some gifs of the film below.

If you want to see it for yourself, download the app and check out the latest Monsters University fact video. The featurette comes at the end.

And you’ll catch a glimpse of what my face looked like when I watched it:

pixar inside out footage

The girl you see there is the latest version of the film’s main character (and location, technically): Riley. She’s an 11-year-old girl whose family has just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. Her adjustment to this big change marks the focal point of the film’s story.

One cool thing I love about the animation here is how much care they put into her facial expressions. You can truly tell that there is a battle between her emotions in the way she slowly lights up.

Pete Docter (Up) pretty much describes the emotions as “their version of the Seven Dwarfs.”

While the above is more traditional animation for Pixar, the shots below capture something new for the studio:

pixar inside out footage

As you can see, this footage takes place within Riley’s mind, and it’s noticeably more stylistic. Here, you can see Joy (Amy Poehler) throwing marshmallows at Anger (Lewis Black).

And here:

pixar inside out footage

You can see that the flames produced by Anger’s, well, anger is being used to roast marshmallows.

As Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera (also from Up) explain it, they’re using new and classic animation techniques (like “squash and stretch”) to make something we’ve never seen before.

We’ll see if that’s true next June…

 

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An Inside Look at Pixar’s New Movie, ‘Inside Out’

Information and updates surrounding Pixar’s next big movie, Inside Out, have been so scarce, people have resorted to repackaging the same news about the film in an attempt to reassure us that yes, the movie is definitely happening (but not until 2015, unfortunately).

That all changed recently at the Annecy Film Festival, where director Pete Docter (Monster’s Inc, Wall-E, Up) finally opened up about the film.

Sadly, I didn’t have the chance to attend the festival myself, but I was still able to hear various reports and descriptions of the event via the folks who did attend.

inside out annecy

Before we go further, it’s important for you to know the premise behind the movie for the sake of avoiding confusion. Simply put, Inside Out is a story that takes place within the mind of a 12-year-old girl named Riley.

We see Riley’s emotions personified within the “world” of her brain. Think Osmosis Jones, but without Bill Murray. Here is a rundown of the first five minutes of the film, described by one of the attendees for the event (via Pixartimes):

Then they showed us the first five minutes of the film – some was still animatic and some blocking, but the animation they have done is beautiful. It opens on Riley as a baby.

Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) is her first emotion. Joy seems happy on her own, but then Sadness (Phyllis Smith) appears. When Riley is being fed broccoli, Disgust (Mindy Kaling) appears. When her father threatens no dessert without eating her broccoli, Anger (Lewis Black) makes an appearance. Fear (Bill Hader) has a great introduction – she looks at a cable on the floor cautiously and then steps over – the comedic timing in that is better than I could explain.

We also see the emotions watching her first important memory appear. Memories can be called up for Riley to recall on a sort of projection in Headquarters. Then we see her growing up, and saw some of how her emotions cope with that. It’s very much a Pete Docter opening to the film.

I found myself completely empathizing with the situation, just like in Up and it caused me to get a bit teary. It’s another heartfelt opening which Docter is obviously really good at.

The story of the film is about how she experiences moving from the country to a smaller house in the city. Sadness tries to make her cry on her first day at the new school, but Joy tries to stop her. They fight and fall out of Headquarters into the depths of Riley’s consciousness (not quite sure if that’s the appropriate word?). The film explains how imagination and déjà vu work, along with other things the brain experiences. It’s not set in the brain – there’s no blood vessels or stuff like that, but the design has taken influence from how brains look.

As you can see, Inside Out is one of the boldest concepts ever taken on by Pixar, but it also looks like it could be the most personal and relatable for audiences to grab ahold of.

And as Peter Debruge put it in his article outlining the event on Variety, “Inside Out will forever change the way people think about the way people think.”

inside out pete docter

According to Pete Docter, the movie is based on a lot of his experiences watching his own daughter “grow up,” citing how preteens tend to become “moody and withdrawn” as they get older. “There is something that is lost when you grow up,” he says, and I can definitely see how people will connect with this theme.

Pete Docter also pointed out, “In truth, Riley is not our main character; she is our setting.”

The job of Riley’s emotions is to manage her experiences and turn them into memories (which look like “translucent bath-bubble balls” according to Debruge). One of the central conflicts to the story takes place between Joy and Sadness, as Joy as a hard time figuring out why Sadness even exists.

Joy and Sadness embark on a “road trip” throughout Riley’s mind, leaving Fear, Anger and Disgust to run Riley’s emotions. The road trip takes them through “Imagination Land,” which is an amusement park filled with everything Riley has ever daydreamed about.

inside out riley

Other locations in Riley’s mind include a movie studio where her nightmares are stored, a “Train of Thought” visualized by a real train and finally, the “Abstract Thought” zone.

As you can see, Inside Out is poised to be another Pixar film that challenges the way we view ourselves and the world around us, and I’m excited to watch the studio captivate audiences once again.

Of course, I can already note how the movie will fit within the Pixar universe as a whole in relation to my Pixar Theory. If you’ve read it, then you may recall how I believe imagination powers the toys of Toy Story and helps animals like Remy from Ratatouille become the greatest chef in Paris. With Inside Out, we’ll finally be able to see how it all really works.

“Inside Out” opens in theaters June 19, 2015!

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