NPR’s Linda Holmes posted an article in 2009 that requested on the behalf of the “girls with band-aids on their knees,” for the major animation studio to make a film about a girl who is not a princess. At that point, Pixar had not made a movie featuring a female in the lead role (that changed with their recent 2012 Oscar winning female-lead film Brave). Holmes criticized that animated films that have girls in significant roles never pertain to what the girl does, but rather the “boy” that she will support.
Pixar’s 2015 film Inside Out promises to be something entirely different in that regard, and others. The upcoming film is entirely princess-free. The film features a little girl named Riley, but according the writer and director of the film, Pete Docter, Riley is not so much the central character of the story, but the setting. The film’s protagonist is Joy, voiced by successful comedic actress and writer Amy Poehler, who is one of five emotions that operate Riley through her life via a control center. Other emotions accompanying Joy include Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). The emotions collide, and collaborate as they guide Riley the first 11 years of her life.
According to film critics, from the Los Angeles preview, the 2015 Pixar film Inside Out offers a comedic representation of the power struggle between emotions in human beings and the issues of maturing. In one scene of the Pixar film, Joy is overpowered by Fear on Riley’s first day of school. The emotion enables the little girl to cry hysterically. Docter said that the idea for the film was engendered from watching his own daughter grow up. He observed that while his daughter Ellie matured, she began to lose the natural joy that was evident in her personality in earlier years. Docter contemplated the potential reasons for the change in her development.
Docter and his crew for the Pixar film, Inside Out contacted professional psychologists for reference. The psychologists told them that no one is more emotionally attuned than a girl entering her teens. The director commented to Vulture after the presentation, that for whatever reason, teenage girls “are just totally dialed in to read everything.” The filmmakers also spent time studying the human brain. This is the first film from the major animation studio to be a female buddy comedy as Joy and Sadness have to work together to get back into Riley’s mind after a feud between the two ended in them becoming lost.
Docter stated that he did not set out to make a girl-empowering film, but that the story and subject matter organically lent itself to that. Early reviewers of the film believe that little girls nationwide will love Pixar’s latest creation. They cited that the film speaks to girls, in a way, no other animated film ever has before, and captures what it is like to be a growing girl in an authentic manner, all the while being funny and entertaining. The film release date is slated for a June 19, 2015.
By Andres Loubriel