Review: Inside Out

Inside Out

One of Pixar’s most imaginative and best films to date, and that’s saying quite a bit.

It seemed for a while there that Disney’s native animation studio was stealing back the crown from stable-mate Pixar, with Big Hero 6 and the monolithic Frozen reclaiming the thunder that Pixar had rightfully borrowed for the better part of the decade. In response, the digital born studio had offered up some half-hearted sequels (Cars 2, Monsters University) and the less-than-spectacular Brave. However, with INSIDE OUT they return to form, doing what they do best by exploring the hidden worlds we humble humans know nothing about.

Inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley, there are five Emotions that work to keep her on track: the effervescent optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), who views her entire mission in life to make Riley happy. Fear (Bill Hader) worries about everything to keep Riley safe, Anger (Lewis Black) voices her inner outrage and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) keeps physical (and social) poisons away from her. Meanwhile, nobody can quite work out what Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is for. However, she kicks into gear when Riley’s parents move her across country, throwing her world into chaos. The Emotions scramble to keep her on track so that her Core Memories don’t turn from happy ones to sad.

INSIDE OUT combines all the charm of Toy Story, the hidden creatures hard at work of Monsters Inc. and the fantastic worlds of Wreck-It-Ralph. From a simple premise, Monsters Inc. and Up director manages to keep us on our toes for the duration, opening up hidden bits of the inner psyche and pure fantasy. Once we get into the long-term memory archives, anything goes, especially with the introduction of an imaginary friend and a journey through abstract thought. The sequence is not only a terrific throwback to the surreal moments of Disney’s history (think Winnie the Pooh’s ““Heffalumps and Woozles” meeting Chuck Jones’ Duck Amuck short), but a Trojan horse of educational on the stages of abstraction. The characters literally fall apart during their “deconstruction” stage. It’s a great example of how some jokes will work on a purely visual level for kids, while adults can smile knowingly at the deeper meaning. Funny and genuine, it also has one of the most positive messages for kids (of all ages): it’s not just okay to be sad sometimes, but that can also be one of your greatest strengths.

2015 | US | Dir: Pete Docter | Writers: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley | Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling | Distributor: Disney | Running time: 102 minutes | Rating:★★★★¾ (9.5/10)