Cinema review by John Campbell
Every now and then you’ll see a movie that reminds you of cinema’s power to create a shared experience. I remember how the audience went right off when Roy Scheider shot that shark at the end of ‘Jaws’, and something similar happened in this, the best animation, by a country mile, since ‘Toy Story 3’.
At the session I attended, I was lucky enough to sit directly behind a little girl and her mother. The child laughed throughout, was quiet and thoughtful during the moments of stress and regularly looked to her Mum for consolation and wordless communication.
The story follows Riley, a kid wrenched from her home and friends in the mid-West and taken by her parents to live in San Francisco. She carries with her a lot of emotional baggage and struggles to adapt to her new surroundings.
The psychological drama in her head (in all our heads) is enacted by colour-coded personality traits – glowing Joy (brilliantly voiced by Amy Poehler), blue Sadness, red Anger, green Disgust and purple Fear. Because the film is primarily aimed at sub-teens, the potentially complex manifestations of character are simplified to straightforward squabbles between the contributing components – which is to say, there is none of the psycho-babble that flourishes hereabouts.
Riley, depressed and feeling alone, has lost the essential memories that bind her to her family and help her to get up and embrace every new day. She decides to run away from home, and it is the task of unflagging Joy and the crew to reconnect Riley with her true self – and Anger (so despised by lifestyle charlatans) gets to play its crucial part.
There is more than enough bombast and hatred in our world, so a dose of Disney positivity and love should be just the ticket for impressionable youngsters and jaded oldies alike. Uplifting and visually beautiful, this is an absolute treat. And at its close, that little girl and her Mum in front of me cuddled, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t tear-up.