In an increasingly tech-savvy world, there’s no escaping Silicon Valley.
The startup universe even made its way into Pixar’s latest kids’ movie, “Inside Out.”
The Bay Area-based animation giant often sets its movies in the Golden State. All three “Toy Story” movies take place in California’s Tri-County area, and the famous “Up” house bears a striking resemblance to the Victorian-style houses in Berkeley. Still, it comes as a surprise that Pixar would admonish the tech capital in its latest flick.
“Inside Out,” in theatres Friday, follows bubbly 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) as her dad’s new job in San Francisco uproots the family from Minnesota.
Helping to navigate Riley through this change are her emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), who live in the control center of her mind.
*Warning: Some spoilers ahead.*
Riley’s picture-perfect family life turns sour, however, the moment their sedan crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.
They pull up outside a skinny Victorian-era house, where dust bunnies and a dead mouse currently reside.
The interiors are white-walled and dull, reinforcing Riley’s disappointment.
The depiction of San Francisco draws a stark contrast to the movie’s other setting: Riley’s mind. The girl’s psyche is visualized as a technicolor landscape, saturated and bright.
“Inside Out” finds other little ways to antagonize the city.
Riley revolts at the sight of the earthy-crunchy, broccoli-topped pizza at East of Eden, a pizzeria that only serves one topping on its pies. The restaurant parodies Berkeley’s Cheese Board Collective, which has an identical menu gimmick.
While the movie’s “bad guys” are hormones and the realities of growing up, the dad’s (Kyle MacLachlan) career path drives the plot forward. He moves the family so he can launch his startup, Brang — a nonsense word intended to fit in among oddly named tech companies. Upon settling, he slips into the Silicon Valley uniform, a branded T-shirt that says “What did you brang?”
Shortly thereafter, the job consumes him. He misses Riley’s try-outs for the local hockey team, and can’t tuck her into bed at night because a phone call with a presumed investor holds him up. According to Mum (Diane Lane), he’s too stressed focusing on his new “venture.”
His unrelenting work schedule causes his relationship with Riley to quickly deteriorate. And by the movie’s end, we’re left wanting closure. The dad makes no apologies for being absent.
Working around-the-clock has become a status symbol in America, and that observation couldn’t be truer among the Silicon Valley elite. Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview that he logs 50 to 60 hours per week in his role as Facebook’s CEO. Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer returned to work just two weeks after giving birth. “Inside Out” reflects the price those innovators pay.
Perhaps the directors will tackle “work-life balance” in a sequel. Here’s hoping Brang gets funded.
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