Director: Pete Docter
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Lewis Black
Have I Seen it Before: Yes, although I didn’t see it in the theater, which is becoming a recurring trend with me and Pixar films.
Did I Like It: Pixar takes such delicate care with their films, that they have yet to make an unwatchable film. There’s too much energy and craft on display to fall short of that standard. The true measure of their success is whether or not it sticks with you like a gut punch (a la the Toy Story series) or end up insubstantial confections that begin to disappear the moment the credits begin (a la the Cars series).
I can happily report that this film resides in the prior category. At their best, Pixar films have an ability to convert an otherwise banal situation (checking your bag at the airport, moving, or bedtime) into stories of epic proportions. Synthesizing what feels like an entire lifetime of reading about Junigan archetypes* into what amounts to a road movie, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and the other emotions in the head of eleven-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) haphazardly find their way to work together more… efficiently feels like the wrong word, as the most efficient manner for them to conduct their mission would be to have Joy run the show. Instead, they must realize that they are an interdependent system. Each will perish without the others.
It might seem like a simplistic system, narrowing all of human emotions—even for the adults—down to five emotions, but when the borders begin to blur, the story really cuts through and sticks with you long after its over. The happiest memories are usually a response to the saddest, so is the opposite, on and on until a complex human being is created. It makes one think about their own core memories, and the continuum of how one feels about all of those key moments.
Thus, it’s one of the best Pixar films (and that is pretty impressive company to be among), and worth immediate viewing if you haven’t already done so.
*I honestly have no idea if the film has any relation to true Jungian psychology, but it feels like the intelligent thing to type there, doesn’t it?