I remember back when Disney studios announced it shut down its traditional, hand-drawn animation department in wake of the cheaper, less talented CG movie line that; for a long time; didn’t provide us with anything too memorable. That’s where Pixar came in. Pixar was the single ray of shining brilliance that ALWAYS delivered some of the most brilliant, emotionally poignant and well-crafted original stories in years, stories that even some of Disney’s classics couldn’t come close to matching. But somewhere along the way, Pixar fell into the unfortunate practice of producing sequels and prequels that no one really asked for, and even they’re attempt to return to more original material, with “Brave,” didn’t quite measure up to their glory days of movie making. So, have their reached their limit, are there no more good ideas buzzing inside the minds of Pixar’s powerhouse brain trust? “Inside Out” is the answer we’ve all been waiting for.
Set mostly inside the mind of a 12 year old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), the story follows the emotions we all feel and experience; come to life in the form of walking, talking, energy sprites that represent our strongest and most basic guiding emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). When an accident causes Joy and Fear and leave Riley’s mental HQ and end up in her “Long term memory fields”, they have to make their way back to bring stability back to Riley’s emotional state and guide her through the most difficult and troubled time in her young life. When I first heard about this movie, I already knew it was going to be something special; I know there’s no way to really know for sure but this with movie, I just knew it; I knew it’d be amazing.
The mere premise for the idea alone is the kind of genius script writing you’d expect from Pixar and boy; did they come back in flying, lively little colors. The design of Riley’s mind and its structuring: memory tubes, long term memory archives, personality islands, core memory orbs; it’s a perfect blend of whimsical entertainment and psychological splendor. Both adults and children can expand their minds and hearts with this incredibly compelling story about why we need those little voices in our heads to be a part of our existential journey; even the ones we think cause us nothing but pain and grief. As usual, Pixar’s casting record remains stellar; you could not have found more perfectly suited voices to take on these emotions physical incarnations. Having Joy and Sadness as the wayward heroines; trying to work their polar opposite personalities together is easily the film’s strongest connection and message point.
Seeing how Riley acts without Joy and Sadness controlling her life is eerily accurate, you almost start to believe that your mind really does operate in this manner and that this kind of scenario is actually the real reason why we react or act certain ways at major milestones in our lifetime. I can’t think of many movies that utilize a story mechanism that is explained and presented so immaculately well that I could actually start perceiving that story mechanism as a part of actual reality. What I loved best about these colorful little sprites, was the fact that they all felt like they all felt like they belonged here; like they were diverse enough in their emotional gimmick to make you recognize and understand the real need they possess to be a part of this story and Riley’s/our lives.
There is no fault I can find, no dirt I can dig up that would prevent me from shouting to the world the wonders of this enchanting, emotional story about emotions. “Inside Out” does everything a true Pixar quality movie should: make you think, make you laugh, make you cry, but above all else; it makes you feel the magic and warmth that Pixar has always been known to dish out in cinematic spades. Pixar is back and in top notch form; to expect anything less would turn me all shades of Disgust, Anger and Sadness.
I give “Inside Out” a perfect 4 stars out of 4 stars.