Skip to comments.What Pixar’s Next Movie Will Mean to Girls
Posted on 06/22/2014 2:47:41 PM PDT by nickcarraway
In 2009, NPR writer Linda Holmes had a simple request for Pixar, one she put forth in an article titled, Dear Pixar, From All the Girls With Band-Aids on Their Knees. The entreaty? Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess. At that point, Pixar hadnt made a movie that starred a girl at all. Yes, there were important female characters in many of the companys most beloved films, like Jessie from Toy Story and Dory from Finding Nemo, but none who could truly be considered the lead of her own movie. Most Pixar films unequivocally starred a male character or often two, since the studio has made several buddy comedies. The story is never a girl and the things that happen to her, wrote Holmes, the way it's a boy and what happens to him. That will soon change, and in a big way. After delivering its first female-led film with 2012s Brave, Pixar brass came down to Los Angeles last night to preview their big title for next year, Inside Out, which is completely princess-free. It takes place in the mind of a little girl named Riley, but shes not exactly the lead; instead, thanks to the ingenuity of Pixar, Riley is more like the setting.
The films real protagonist is Joy (voiced by an effervescent Amy Poehler), one of five emotions who steer Riley through life via a control center in her mind thats akin to the bridge from the Starship Enterprise. Joy and her cohorts including Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) all work together to keep Riley emotionally balanced, and for the first 11 years of her life, the primary influencer is Joy, as evidenced by Rileys sunny demeanor.
But as adolescence sets in, Joy finds her lead role usurped. Suddenly, Sadness wants to pipe in at inappropriate times coaxing Riley to cry during her first day at a new school, for instance and as the two emotions jostle for control, both of them fall into the deepest reaches of Rileys mind and have to work their way back. Meanwhile, left to their own devices, Fear, Disgust, and Anger collude to transform Riley into a moody preteen.
The whole story sparked from watching my daughter grow up, said director Pete Docter, who also helmed Monsters Inc. and Up. As his daughter Ellie grew older, she started to lose the natural joy that once seemed so inherent in her personality, and as Docter mused on why that was, he hit upon his movie. Also, as we did our research, psychologists told us there is no one more emotionally attuned than a 12- to 16-year-old girl, he told Vulture after the presentation. They are just totally dialed in to read everything for whatever reason, its sociologically true.
The real spin on the Pixar formula comes when Joy and Sadness have to work together to make their way back into Rileys mind; unless you count Meridas misadventures with her non-verbal, transformed mother in Brave, Inside Out qualifies as Pixars first female buddy comedy. Producer Jonas Rivera says that decision came naturally. Joy just felt like shed be female, he said. It wasnt something that we engineered or overthought it just felt right to us.
Docter concurred. Its not like I set out to make a girl-power movie, he told Vulture. But I think this story and the subject matter really speaks to that.
And it will likely speak to millions of little girls, too. I thought of Holmes as Docter played the first five minutes of his movie, a fleet and touching montage that emotionally rivals what he accomplished in the famous first act of Up. As Inside Out begins, Riley is born, and Joy enters her mind for the first time, awed at what she beholds. As Riley grows, playing games with her parents and roaming around the house as a toddler, Joy stores those memories in glowing marbles, each of which coaxes elements of Riley's personality to come to the fore. One of those memories flashes by in a flash, but it's pivotal: Tottering around on an icy lake with her parents, young Riley inadvertently hits a hockey puck into a nearby net, scoring an accidental goal. Joy files that experience away as a treasured memory, and Riley's interest in sports grows commensurately; moments later in the montage, when we see an older Riley, she's skidding across the ice again, this time equipped not with a tiara and a scepter but with a hockey mask and a stick. She's in the middle of a game, manipulating the puck like a master, driven as can be. In an instant, you know: This is a girl with band-aids on her knees, and the movies (and Pixar) are all the richer for it.
I am a man. Women need not re-brand themselves in my humble opinion.
> The films real protagonist is Joy (voiced by an effervescent Amy Poehler), one of five emotions who steer Riley through life via a control center in her mind thats akin to the bridge from the Starship Enterprise. Joy and her cohorts including Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) all work together to keep Riley emotionally balanced, and for the first 11 years of her life, the primary influencer is Joy, as evidenced by Rileys sunny demeanor.
IOW, “Herman’s Head” — an excellent short-lived series on Fox that wasn’t given enough time.
Heck...even the butchest gal will always think of herself as a princess.
Wow. I haven't thought about that show in years. I think I watched it every Sunday night in college. It was on right after Married... with Children if my memory is correct.
I do recall enjoying it.
Did they not see A Bugs Life? What about Princess Atta, the Queen and Princess Dot? These were very strong female roles, and not at all princess-y, even if that were a bad thing.
Hollywood, I have a great idea, create CONSERVATIVE MOVIES!
This reminds me of “Time for Timer!” from when I was really little. The early 70s? “The Magical Journey Through Little Red’s Head,” in which we learned about adrenaline and stuff.
I love The Incredibles! Excellence doesn’t have to yield to mediocrity.
I thought of that show too reading the description.
Great cast. Lisa Simpson and Apu.
Uh-oh, I’m free associating now... Little Nemo in Slumberland, by Spring Lake Michigan’s own Winsor McCay...
Their best movie, IMHO. It's in my top 20 movies of all time.
Last I heard, they were FINALLY working on a sequel.
Fear and Anger are male characters.... why??
Because it would be sexist for them to be female of course, lol.
Enevitably they all turn out like Peg Bundy anyway.
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