“Inside Out” movie review

By Jeff Boudreaux


The creative geniuses at Disney/Pixar have done it once again. Not only have they released the film that is certain to win the Oscar for best animated feature at next year’s Academy Awards, the directorial and production team of Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera have given us one of the best films to come out of that studio yet. Working as both a metaphorical tale of what makes us tick as humans as well as an exemplary analysis of the pains of growing up; “Inside Out” is undoubtedly a triumph in the annals of modern animation that works on every level imaginable.

Our story focuses on Riley, a normal prepubescent girl who loves her friends, is close to her parents, and really enjoys playing hockey. While this latter activity might not exactly seem like the epitome of normalcy to the average viewer, you have to take the girl’s location into context – she lives in Minnesota. Or should I say LIVED. Unfortunately for Riley, her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) have just uprooted her comfy life and planted themselves firmly in San Francisco, due to her father’s job. Needless to say, her emotions start spiraling out of control. And, these are no ordinary emotions but rather 5 little people that live inside of her brain and everyone else’s for that matter. The unofficial leader of “headquarters” is Joy (Amy Poehler), because naturally, everyone wants to be happy.


Joy has quite the crew to help, but mostly hinder her. There’s Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and the pitiful Sadness (Phyllis Smith). All of Riley’s accessible memories are contained within headquarters, and they appear in the form of glowing marbles. Because of Riley’s discontent in her new home (without even any furniture because of an M.I.A. moving truck!), Sadness starts touching certain memories of the girl’s life in Minnesota and as a result, a happy memory is now a sad one, much to the chagrin of Joy. While trying to retrieve the joyful memories after they become scattered, Joy and Sadness get sucked into a memory storage tube and are careened away to the uncharted depths of Riley’s mind. Here they must face the seemingly insurmountable task of returning Joy back to the controls as Fear, Anger, and Disgust attempt to run the show as only they know how. INSIDE OUT

The indisputable star of this show is Joy, an extremely effervescent cutie pie (think Tinkerbell with blue hair). As her name implicitly states, she’s simply a joy to watch. In fact, her relationship with her polar opposite Sadness constructs a great deal of the screen time here, as their adventure takes them through every recess of Riley’s mind, from the dream production studio to the dreaded subconscious! Along the way they meet Bing Bong (brilliantly voiced by Richard Kind), a lonely imaginary friend from Riley’s earlier years that helps them in their quest.

The main thing that “Inside Out” has going for it is not how funny or wonderfully animated and entertaining it is (and trust me, it is everything that I mentioned), the greatest thing about this movie is its heart. The emotional rollercoaster that is life is explored with heavy doses of poignancy and pathos. Many of us have faced these same pressures while growing up: moving to new locations because you’re 12 and you have to, leaving cherished friends and places behind and then facing the daunting task of forging new friendships while getting used to a strange new community. Fortunately for the viewing audience, while “Inside Out” does indeed tug at our heartstrings, it never lets us forget that we are actually having fun with these hilarious characters that are nevertheless dependent upon one another.640px-Inside-Out-14

After the conclusion of this film, it immediately occurred to me why it has been two years since a feature from Pixar has last graced cinema screens. You can’t rush perfection. And that’s what writer/director Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up) has crafted: a perfect example of cinema that is equally entertaining for both children and adults. And ever since he started writing stories for Pixar, beginning with the legendary “Toy Story,” I’d say he’s proven that he knows the business from the “Inside Out” and the visionary company couldn’t be in more capable hands.

“Inside Out” was preceded by the delightful “Lava,” a terrifically sweet addition to their ever-growing canon of quality short subjects.

**** (four out of four stars)




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