I will admit to some small measure of skepticism when I first learned of Inside Out, the new animated movie from Pixar. The premise of the movie is we all have emotions living inside us, you see, that look kind of like us except Fear (which resembles a purple Al Pacino, only skinnier), and Anger, which I don't know what the hell it looks like, but it's red.
But it's Pixar, and Pixar is usually a pretty safe bet. They gave us Up, Toy Story, The Shining, Finding Nemo, and Brave, so I figured I'd give the movie a shot.
Al Pacino in Pixar's hit movie The Shining
The movie begins with the birth of the main character Ripley Riley, who is dragged non-consensually into the world nine months after the end of last year's surprise Pixar hit, Carnal Encounters of the Barest Kind. Upon the abrupt cessation of her non-existence, Ripley Riley begins to feel her first emotions, hilariously voiced by Al Pacino, gruff Al Pacino, Sigourney Weaver, unhappy Sigourney Weaver, and smug Sigourney Weaver.
Ripley Riley grows up in an idyllic Minnesota town, where she faces the normal challenges any young woman encounters on the path to maturity: she learns to play hockey, builds relationships with her parents and friends, goes to school, and drives a loader (in one particularly poignant scene, she gets a Class Two rating after her flight license is revoked).
The rest of the movie goes something like this:
Ripley Riley's Joy: I am Riley's sense of joy. I want Riley to be happy. Riley is happy. An alert Riley is a happy Riley. Happiness is mandatory. Not being happy is treason. Riley is happy.
See? Ripley Riley is happy! Are you happy, citizen?
Ripley Riley's Sadness: I am Riley's sense of sadness. I don't know what joy is. Ripley Riley's Disgust: I am Riley's inflamed sense of rejection. I am Riley's raging bile duct. Also, I hate broccoli. Al Pacino: I am Riley's fear. It's not entirely clear what I do, except act as comic relief. I don't get very many lines in this movie. Gruff Al Pacino: Grr. Disney Executive: Sadness is the villain in this movie, right? Pixar Executive: What? Disney Executive: The villain! Every movie needs a villain. You know, like Prince Hans in Frozen. The villain! You can't have a movie without a villain. Pixar Executive: Please do go away.
A GIANT GLOWING MARBLE rolls into the CONTROL ROOM from which RIPLEY RILEY'S EMOTIONS control her from a GIANT CONTROL PANEL
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do
Ripley Riley's Joy: Look! It's a core memory! These core memories power the cornerstones of Ripley Riley's personality! See, there's Hockey Island, Honesty Island, Friendship Island, and Xenomorph Island, right down the M41A expressway! It's a bit like that one scene in Tron, only better animated! Ripley Riley's Father: Minnesota is boring. Let's move to San Francisco.
The family moves to SAN FRANCISCO
Ripley Riley's Father: We're here! Look, we gave up our spacious rambling house in Minnesota for a squalid flat in the city. Also, the moving van is missing. And there's a dead mouse on the floor. And your room is a shithole. Surprise! Isn't life awesome? Ripley Riley's Disgust: I am Riley's complete lack of surprise. Ripley Riley's Joy: Wait! I can fix this. Let's play an impromptu game of hockey in the living room!
They play an IMPROMPTU GAME OF HOCKEY in the LIVING ROOM
Ripley Riley's Father: Now I am going to abandon you in order to take a phone call.
Ripley Riley's father ABANDONS HER to take a PHONE CALL
Ripley Riley: ... Ripley Riley's Joy: I know! Let's go get pizza! Pizza is happiness. Happiness is mandatory. Ergo, by the transitive property, pizza is mandatory! Ripley Riley's Mother: What a splendid idea! I'm hungry.
They go to get PIZZA. Dinner goes POORLY
Ripley Riley's Joy: ... Ripley Riley's Joy: Okay, that could have gone better. Ripley Riley: I'm sad. Ripley Riley's Joy: Hey, wait, I know what will cheer us up! Remember when we were moving out to this shithole and Dad ran the car into a dinosaur statue? Wasn't that hysterical? There's nothing like auto accidents for my entertainment dollar!
SADNESS touches the TOTALLY HYSTERICAL MEMORY of the AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT and turns it SAD
RIPLEY RILEY goes to BED in a SLEEPING BAG on the FLOOR
Ripley Riley's Mother: Your father is having trouble with his startup. Plus the moving van lost all our stuff. And there's a dead mouse on the floor. We need you to be happy for us. Happiness is mandatory. Not being happy is treason. Ripley Riley: This sucks. If you wanted happiness, we should have moved to Mountain View.
RIPLEY RILEY has her first day of SCHOOL. It goes BADLY. She stands in front of a whole bunch of PEOPLE and FAILS EPICALLY. Her FLIGHT LICENSE is revoked.
Ripley Riley's Sadness: Oh, look! Riley just failed epically in front of a whole bunch of people and formed a new core memory! Ripley Riley's Joy: IT'S A SAD MEMORY! HAPPINESS IS MANDATORY! DUMP IT! Ripley Riley's Sadness: Happiness is not mandatory. Ripley Riley's Joy: TREASON!
They STRUGGLE. Memories end up all over the FLOOR. The dialog WEDGES.
Ripley Riley's Joy: This dialog sucks. I'm out of here.
JOY and SADNESS and IMPORTANT CORE MEMORIES get sucked through a GIANT TUBE
Al Pacino: ... Al Pacino: Now it's just me, gruff me, and smug Sigourney Weaver. We are well and truly-- Gruff Al Pacino: Can I use that one swear word now? Al Pacino: No. This is a PG movie.
JOY and SADNESS and IMPORTANT CORE MEMORIES go flying through SPACE
Ripley Riley's Joy: Fffffuuuuuuuuuuu--
They land with a THUMP in LONG-TERM STORAGE
Ripley Riley's Joy: --zzzy outline. Ripley Riley's Sadness: What? Ripley Riley's Joy: I just noticed I have a fuzzy outline. I'm not sure if Pixar is showing off a new Renderman shader or it's a glitch in the Matrix.
RIPLEY RILEY sits down to DINNER with her PARENTS
Ripley Riley's Mother: How was school today? Ripley Riley: Fine. Ripley Riley's Mother's Disgust: I am Riley's mother's deep-seated intuition that something is wrong. It is time to signal Riley's father.
She signals RIPLEY RILEY'S FATHER by means of a process that involves EYEBROWS
Ripley Riley's Father's Joy: Watch as I fail to understand the signal, and run through a list of comedic tropes about men's incompetence in matters of running a household, in order to subtly reinforce the social and cultural gender norms that say running a house is woman's work!
Ripley Riley's Father fails to understand the SIGNAL and runs through a list of COMEDIC TROPES about men's incompetence in matters of running a HOUSEHOLD, in order to subtly reinforce the social and cultural GENDER NORMS that say running a house is WOMAN'S WORK
Disney Executive: Nicely done! We approve. Pixar Executive: Are you still here?
Ripley Riley's Father's ANGER has a TEMPER TANTRUM and sends Riley to BED
Ripley Riley's Joy: Quickly! We must get back to headquarters! Otherwise Riley will never be happy again! Happiness is mandatory! Are you happy, citizen? Ripley Riley's Sadness: No. But I'm the only one who knows the way around this place. Ripley Riley's Joy: Close enough.
Ripley Riley's Father attempts to comfort RILEY but instead destroys one of the key cornerstones of her PERSONALITY, subtly reinforcing the social and cultural GENDER NORM that says raising children is best left to WOMEN
Ripley Riley's Joy: One of the key cornerstones of Riley's personality has been destroyed! We have to get back to Headquarters through this long maze of twisty passages, all alike!
Ripley Riley's Sadness: You go look for the alien. I'll go get the cat. Ripley Riley's Joy: What? Ripley Riley's Sadness: Nothing. Forgetters: We're here doing garbage collection in Riley's memory. Eventually, all memories must fade. Well, all except that one annoying jingle from that chewing gum commercial. We sometimes send that one up into Riley's consciousness totally at random, because we're dicks. Ripley Riley's Joy: Why does Riley use garbage collection? Isn't reference counting faster? Forgetters: Reference counting doesn't work with cyclic references. Have you seen the reference tree for self-esteem? Ripley Riley's Joy: Ah, right. So, um, do you know the way through this maze? Forgetters: No.
They SET OFF through the MAZE
Forgetters: Don't go that way! Never go that way! Ripley Riley's Joy: Okay. Forgetters: If they had kept going down that way, they would've gone straight to their headquarters!
Meg: Heya, Riley! Things are going swimmingly here in Minnesota without you. I have a new best friend who's taken your place on the hockey team, and-- Gruff Al Pacino: HERE COMES THE PAIN!
Ripley Riley closes her SKYPE WINDOW
Gruff Al Pacino: Ha! That showed 'em. Bing-Bong: Hi! I'm a weird bastard offspring of a cat, a dolphin, and the Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. I can't help but notice you appear to be in distress, and I was just wondering if I might be of some small service in rectifying whatever unfortunate situation has befallen you. Ripley Riley's Joy: Who are you? Bing-Bong: I'm Riley's half-forgotten imaginary friend. Disney Executive: He's going to be the villain, isn't he? Every movie needs a villain. You know, like Prince Hans in Frozen. You can't make a movie without a villain! Pixar Executive: Stand back, amateur. The big boys are playing. Bing-Bong: Now, let me see. I believe the most expeditious route to your destination will take us through the land of abstract thought, prominently plastered with "danger" and "keep out" signs to subtly reinforce the trope that abstract reasoning is a dangerous and unpredictable thing. We'll just go through here. Ripley Riley's Joy: Is it safe? Bing-Bong: It's abstract thought. What's the worst that could happen? Ripley Riley's Joy: Have you read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason? Bing-Bong: I look like what happens if a Muppet makes love to a cotton candy machine. Do I strike you as someone who reads Kant? Ripley Riley's Joy: ... Bing-Bong: Nietzsche's more my speed.
They go through the land of ABSTRACT THOUGHT, where they turn into PICASSO PAINTINGS
Bing-Bong: Okay. That was uncomfortable but amusing. Now, we just need to head through Imagination Land, which is totally different from abstract thought because of reasons. It is a place where anything is possible, where a wagon can take you to the moon and the movie Prometheus never happened. Ripley Riley's Sadness: I liked Prometheus. It made me sad. Ripley Riley's Joy: Look on the bright side! Prometheus wasn't as bad as Alien 3!
Ripley Riley goes to a HOCKEY TRYOUT in SAN FRANCISCO, but without her CORE MEMORIES she SUCKS ASS. This causes GRUFF AL PACINO to fly into a RAGE.
Gruff Al Pacino: RRRAAAAARRRRGH! Ripley Riley: I quit. Ripley Riley's Father: Wait, what? Ripley Riley's Mother: If this is her in a full-blown temper tantrum, I'd say we got off pretty easy. You take your victories where you can get them.
Inside Ripley Riley's HEAD, a WRECKING CREW demolishes Ripley Riley's EARLY PRESCHOOL MEMORIES and dumps Bing-Bong's WAGON-ROCKET CONTRAPTION into the ABYSS
Bing-Bong: Hey! That's my rocket contraption!
Bing-Bong has a BREAKDOWN
Ripley Riley's Sadness: Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Bing-Bong: You read Neitzsche? Ripley Riley's Sadness: Of course I do. Nietzsche makes me sad. Bing-Bong: Nietzsche makes everyone sad.
They share a BONDING MOMENT
Ripley Riley's Joy: Now that you two have shared a bonding moment, we need to ride the Train of Thought up to Headquarters.
They hop on the TRAIN OF THOUGHT. It moves a short distance and then STOPS when Ripley Riley falls ASLEEP.
Ripley Riley's Joy: I know! Let's go to Dream Productions and give Riley such a happy dream she wakes up! Ripley Riley's Sadness: Is that a thing that happens? Like, ever? Ripley Riley's Joy: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Ripley Riley's Sadness: What? Ripley Riley's Joy: Never mind. Here, let's put on a dog costume. I'll be the head. You be the anus. Ripley Riley's Sadness: Figures.
They prance around in a DOG COSTUME because REASONS. The costume RIPS IN HALF and becomes a NIGHTMARE in which HALF A DOG chases the OTHER HALF.
Dream Security: Bing-Bong, you're under arrest. Bing-Bong: But those two are the ones orchestrating this little nightmare! Why am I the one being arrested? Dream Security: They're white, duh. Bing-Bong: Wait, what? Riley's Sadness is blue! Dream Security: She's a member of the elite. She lives high up in a tower, one of the five most powerful people controlling all that happens in this whole little society, and all she does is complain. Bing-Bong: Dude, you're right, that is pretty white.
DREAM SECURITY imprisons BING-BONG in Ripley Riley's SUBCONSCIOUS
Ripley Riley's Sadness: They've locked Bing-Bong deep in the subconscious, where all of Riley's deepest nightmares live! We must go in after him!
JOY and SADNESS descend into the NIGHTMARE WORLD of Ripley Riley's SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
Ripley Riley's Joy: I know! We can loose the demons of Riley's mind! That will wake her up!
They loose the DEMONS of Ripley Riley's SUBCONSCIOUS MIND, causing Ripley Riley to WAKE UP in a PANIC
Ripley Riley's Joy: The Train of Thought is moving again! We're saved! Gruff Al Pacino: I have a brilliant idea! We'll give Riley the idea to run away from home!
Ripley Riley steals MONEY for a BUS TICKET, causing HONESTY ISLAND to crumble into DUST and boding ILL for her FUTURE ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS. BING-BONG and JOY fall into the ABYSS.
Bing-Bong: There are no monsters down here! I did all that gazing for nothing? Ripley Riley's Joy: Look! It's the wagon you made an imaginary spaceship out of! We're saved! We'll just fly the spaceship out of here and everything will be fine! Once we lift off, nothing can go wrong!
They LIFT OFF. Things go totally PEAR-SHAPED and they CRASH.
Bing-Bong: Let's try again!
They LIFT OFF. Things go totally PEAR-SHAPED and they CRASH.
Bing-Bong: Let's try again!
They LIFT OFF. Bing-Bong JUMPS OUT. The wagon makes it to the TOP OF THE CHASM.
Ripley Riley's Joy: Yay! We made it!
Bing-Bong DISINTEGRATES into a CLOUD OF DUST
Audience: NOOO PIXAR YOU JUST CRUSHED OUR HEARTS INTO A MILLION PIECES HOW COULD YOU? Disney Executive: ... Disney Executive: I...you...you just...I... Pixar Executive: And that's how you do it, yo.
JOY and SADNESS hop the train back to HEADQUARTERS, which has no DOOR so there is no way for them to get IN
Smug Sigourney Weaver: Gruff Al Pacino, you are a great big dumb-dumbhead. Gruff Al Pachino: Grrr. Smug Sigourney Weaver: Gruff Al Pacino, you're the biggest dumb-dumbhead ever to wear a hat. Gruff Al Pachino: Arrr. Smug Sigourney Weaver: Gruff Al Pacino, if you were a bigger dumb-dumbhead, you and your own dumb-dumbness could not fit in the same bus. Gruff Al Pachino: Okay, that's it. SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!!!
SMUG SIGOURNEY WEAVER uses GRUFF AL PACINO'S RAGE to smash the WINDOW
Smug Sigourney Weaver: Oh, what a day! What a lovely, lovely day! Ripley Riley's Joy: We made it! What did we miss? Gruff Al Pachino: We persuaded Riley to run away from home. Ripley Riley's Joy: ... Gruff Al Pachino: It seemed like a good idea at the time. Ripley Riley's Sadness: I will make Ripley Riley sad.
Ripley Riley becomes SAD and decides not to RUN AWAY
Ripley Riley's Parents: We are so glad you decided not to run away.
The cornerstones of Ripley Riley's personality REAPPEAR. Ripley Riley's EMOTIONS become more NUANCED.
Ripley Riley's Sadness: I think the moral lesson here is that empathy is not possible without sadness. Ripley Riley's Joy: What? Ripley Riley's Sadness: Nothing.
The movie E--
CAT: Cat emotions are just like little cats inside of cats, only they take the controls kind of at random. IT'S CATS ALL THE WAY DOWN.