Adventure Animation

'Inside Out' Blu-ray Review: Pixar perfection

November 3, 2015Ben MK

Joy. Sadness. Fear. Anger. Disgust. These aren't just random emotions. In Pixar's latest, they're the emotions that define who we are, dictating our every move from "Headquarters," the central command center inside our heads. Welcome to the world of Inside Out — quite possibly Pixar's most imaginative film to date — where memories are contained in colored orbs, information is forgotten by being tossed into a vast landfill called the "Memory Dump," and the various aspects of our personality are manifested as "Personality Islands."

It's also where you'll find the aforementioned characters, voiced by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling, colorful embodiments of the five emotions that co-exist inside the mind of Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias). In the 11 years since they've been with Riley, this fab five have experienced all of her ups and downs right alongside her. Still, nothing can prepare them for the emotional roller coaster she'll embark on when her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) up and move her from their cozy Minnesota home to a cold and grey San Francisco apartment.

In true Pixar fashion, what follows is both hilariously entertaining and heartwarmingly endearing, as Riley and her emotions are thrown for a loop, leaving it up to Joy and Sadness to restore her personality. To do so, they must problem-solve their way through the labyrinthine passageways of her memory bank, visiting the far corners of Riley's psyche — from "Dream Productions" to "Imagination Land" — and meeting crazy characters like Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's former imaginary friend, who's part elephant, all cotton candy and always willing to lend a helping hand.

It almost sounds too sweet to bear. But even though Inside Out can sometimes appear too cute for its own good, it still feels like classic Pixar through and through, building on familiar themes and motifs. In other words, there's plenty here that will delight younger viewers, but more mature moviegoers will also appreciate the nuance with which writer/director Pete Docter, co-director Ronnie del Carmen and screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley have crafted the story. It all adds up to one of the most striking film experiences of the year. And as far as emotions are concerned, it will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.

Past Pixar films have all made for excellent home theater demo material, so it should come as no surprise that Inside Out is no different. Transferred directly from the digital source files, this is one pixel-perfect hi-def transfer, beaming with brilliantly-saturated colors and steeped in jaw-dropping clarity. It's especially true for scenes set within Riley's mind, where primaries basically pop off the screen, and where even the subtlest of details are visible, such as Anger's felt-like texture or the minuscule particles of light that Joy emits as she moves. Moving onto the film's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, the results are equally impressive. Dialogue is crystal-clear; the score is as nuanced and as moving as ever; and sound effects are immersive, whether it's the everyday sounds of the outside world or the cacophonous sputter of Bing Bong's magical, rainbow-powered wagon.

Disney's three-disc Blu-ray release includes a DVD and an iTunes digital copy, plus the following Blu-ray extras (spread across two discs):

  • Lava (7:12) - The animated short that preceded Inside Out in theaters.
  • Riley's First Date? (4:40) - A brand-new animated short that has Riley's parents at a loss for what to do when a boy shows up to take Riley out.
  • Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out (11:22) - Interviews with the female members of the cast and crew, who talk about what they were like as kids, their career aspirations and the challenges they've faced along the way, the Inside Out characters they identify with the most, their experiences at Pixar, and their emotional connection to the film itself.
  • Mixed Emotions (7:17) - A featurette about how the movie's characters came about, focusing on the character designs and how they evolved over time.
  • Commentary - Director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen delve into the film's "history, invisible story and cinematography," covering such topics as the inspiration for the movie, the filmmaking process, the difference in visual styles between the inside world and the outside world, the characters and more.
  • Story of the Story (10:30) - A piece that speaks not only to Docter's original concept for the film and its evolution, but also the difficulties the filmmakers encountered trying to nail down the story, the characters and the tone.
  • Mapping the Mind (8:24) - A featurette about how the artists at Pixar visualized the human mind for the movie, which covers the evolution of their design, how they incorporated the biology of the mind into it, and the role real-life neuroscience played in the film.
  • Our Dads, the Filmmakers (7:25) - A documentary by Ellie Docter, daughter of director Pete Docter, and Gracie Giacchino, daughter of composer Michael Giacchino, in which they follow their dads around to find out more about their work on Inside Out.
  • Into the Unknown: The Sound of Inside Out (7:09) - A piece about the movie's sound design, focusing on the unique sounds created for the film, the instruments and objects used to create those sounds, and how the sounds affect viewers emotionally.
  • The Misunderstood Art of Animation Film Editing (4:43) - A look at what an animation film editor does, in particular their involvement in the filmmaking process, the editing process itself, and the difference their work makes to the final product.
  • Mind Candy (14:26) - Various clips and scenes featuring the characters from the film, including an alternate ending, all edited together.
  • Deleted Scenes (16:53) - Four deleted scenes ("Riley Grows Up," "Joy's Decline," "Misdirection" and "Construction"), presented in rough animatic form, with both a general introduction and scene-specific introductions by director Pete Docter.
  • Trailers (6:27) - Three trailers ("Remember," "Experience" and "Japan Trailer").

Inside Out is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of November 3rd, 2015. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English DTS-HD High Resolution 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 34 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on June 19th, 2015.

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