Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Welcome to another installment of SIDE BY SIDE, where we dissect the differences and similarities between two films, be it a remake/reboot with its original, a sequel with its original, or two similar movies. This week we will be breaking away from the norm to compare two very different, yet very emotional animated films, INSIDE OUT and ANOMALISA.  Enjoy!

This edition of Side By Side, understandably, may feel like two polar opposites going against one another, which I completely understand, until of course, you hear me out. While Inside Out and Anomalisa do share an Academy Award animated feature nomination together, they also share an interesting connection: their tackling of the human mind, isolation, our emotions, our desires, one told through a developing child, damaged by the sudden move to San Francisco where she feels alone, the other, the story of a man, damaged long ago by his own failures, moving across the country as a lonely customer service.

Where Inside Out succeeds, other than it's beautiful computer animation, is in the internalization of emotional termoil. We follow Riley and her five emotions, led by Joy, as they answer the question of what exactly goes on in someone's head. What happens in Riley's head however, plays out like bound-to-happen fate to what happens externally with Riley, who shares an overbearing absence similar to Anomalisa’s Michael: Loss of one's whole self. Riley finds the move and this personal change extremely daunting and emotional damaging. Joy, the real symbol of happiness, desperately trying hold this all together, as the islands of her personality crumble without her control. A literal presentation of ones mind breaking down against our will during deep depression. What Anomalisa tackles this to a more impressive level, attempting to show the breaking down of the mind on a more nuanced external level. The life of Michael prior to the film is one of loss as well. An abandoneer, unable to connect with any person for long, fleeing before their mundaity slips in. This psychological mundaity he sees in society told through voice over, as the same actor voices every other man, woman and child on screen, which sends Michael into his own state of isolation.

How Riley and Michael believe they can mend these turmoils are also not too different. As humans in depression, what we look to for hope is some kind of attainable utopia peace. A harmony that obtaining may make us whole, when in actuality, they are just things. It's this same harmony that drive these characters, separate only through age and, with maturity, a change in what harmony is to them. In Riley we see child gaze of emotional utopia: Home and Family, living a life of always happy never sad. Leading to her idea of running away to San Francisco which will solve everything (which, of course, it won't). Michael views utopia through the sexual gaze, or rather, a masturbatory gaze. Believing his escape from depression is through the climax of depression, which he sees through Lisa. Immediately falling over head over heels because he sees no flaws in her, and believes having a flawless woman would solve everything (say it now… It won't).

When Riley and Michael approach their narrative ends, their emotional arcs, I believe, can be resolved in a very similar way: The embrace of their own sadness. Riley’s arc comes to a close when she recognizes her loss, and opens up to her family in great need. Resulting in the loving family embrace that leaves her in a conditional utopia she didn't expect, and yet was always there. For Michael, this catharsis with of his own faults never occurs. He recognizes them, saying something is very wrong with him, but he doesn't seek a conditional peace he can fall back on. He views his family with confusion, scorn, contempt, when his own wife admits everyone at his surprise party is here for me. Entrenched in the belief he needs more, and that utopia will be that unattainable flawless woman. His emotional arc on going as the film concludes, with no embrace of sadness to come any soon.

In many ways Inside Out and Anomalisa couldn't be more different. Broccoli pizza jokes are very different to sight gags of neighbours masturbating through open windows. When it comes to their emotional utopia seeking arcs, however, despite how different their goals and resolutions are, they share the very same human desperate need that plagues us all.

Bailey's Scores:

Inside Out: 8/10
Anomalisa: 9/10

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