Trashy, goofy, and surprisingly sincere, this superhero fantasy is better than you expect but not as good as it should be.
In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see who they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Scout Tafoya makes the case for the best original screenplay of 2015: "Inside Out" by Pete Docter & Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley (story by Docter and Ronnie del Carmen). Two winners will be announced Monday through Thursday, ending in our choices for Best Director and Best Picture on Friday.
Since we've also given it our pick for Best Animated Feature, it should be no surprise that this film has a lot of room to be admired. "Inside Out" achieves so much and packs so much detail into such a deceptively tidy frame. It's amazing to think it didn't just emerge fully intact from the minds of its creators like one of the tiny balls of experience its heroes collect.
Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley dreamt up a screenplay worthy of the complexities of its hero/setting. That slash is important because everything in "Inside Out" has multiple meanings, more evidence of the incredible effort and time the writers put into figuring out and doing justice to the mind of a little girl.
"Inside Out" was described on press junkets as a kind of workplace comedy, and while the emotions of preteen Riley (Joy, Anger, Disgust, Sadness and Fear) have spiky chemistry of the sort found in "Broadcast News," "Be Kind Rewind" & "High Fidelity," that's only scratching the surface. "Inside Out" is a film steeped in child psychology that uses fun, cute and specific visual metaphors grounded in the reality of development. For all the unbridled emotion that looking at "Inside Out" unleashes, thinking about how the writers constructed its set pieces and intricate inner workings is both highly rewarding and exhausting. The work involved in just imagining one of the dozens of insanely clever ideas hidden along the way to the film's tearduct destroying conclusion is downright staggering. The script for "Inside Out" is filled with puzzles, riddles and games, none more complicated than how a film with a screenplay this ornate, intelligent and elaborate is still accessible enough for both children and adults to fall in love with it. "Inside Out" is classic Pixar in its execution, but it's something even richer in its foundation.
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