Joy (Amy Poehler) came into being as an emotion in Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) head the moment she was born, quickly followed by Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black). As Riley has grown, they have protected her, and helped her make decisions, but when Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Fransisco, and Joy and Sadness become lost in Riley’s mind, they must band together to return to headquarters and help Riley deal with the changes in her life.
Director Pete Docter has, over the years, made some of the most beloved Pixar films, in Up and Monsters, Inc. The studio has seemed lost in recent times, turning to unnecessary sequels to keep telling stories The fantastic news, however, is that Inside Out is smart, funny, imaginative and sad; a return to from for Pixar.
Amy Poehler leads the emotion gang as Joy. Fans of Parks & Recreation will know that Poehler does bubbly and fun incredibly well, and she really does embody the character’s name. Phyllis Smith is lovely as Sadness, making her not outright despair, but feel like the sadness that creeps over you while witing for a bus in the rain. Mindy Kaling plays Disgust as a tween girl, grossed out by everything, Hader makes fear comedic and jumpy, and Lewis Black brings righteous rage to Anger. Richard Kind does lovely work as Riley’s almost forgotten imaginary friend Bing Bong, creating the balance between joy and sadness that is the film’s ultimate message.
The story, based on Pete Docter watching his young daughter struggle with her emotions, and written for the screen by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley is essentially an adventure movie with some heartfelt soul searching blended in for good measure. The dialogue is sweet and smart, and although we spend much of the film in Riley’s head, she feels like a fully realised and rounded character. The film also has a hearty dose of nostalgia for forgotten childhood, as Riley is on the cusp of puberty and the massive change this brings. The world of Riley’s mind is filled with clever quirks – trains of thought, dream weavers whose place of work is like a Hollywood Studio and Islands of Personality – as well as explanations as to why ad jingles are never forgotten, while parts of our childhood that inform who we are, are lost.
Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen make Inside Out a well paced adventure movie, filled with warmth and heart. The message of the film is one of inclusivity and hope, andrealising that without the lows, the highs just aren’t as sweet. There is also the sweet feeling that Riley’s emotions want to protect her, even though they are often as lost as she is. Inside Out is well paced and fun, with the laughs and tears coming in equal measure, to create a surprising and beautifully animated film that will touch adults and kids alike.
In all, Inside Out is a sweet, funny, warm and beautiful. Poehler and Smith form the emotional heart of the film, and their adventure isboth thrilling and heartbreaking. Inside Out is a beautiful return to form for Pixar, and just as endearing and nostalgic as we could hope from Pixar director Pete Docter.