Animated movies have featured talking toys, monsters, animals and robots, but they rarely allow filmgoers to hear the voices in their head—until now.
“Inside Out” is Pixar’s latest feature, which invites the audience to literally and hilariously experience the mind from the inside out.
“Inside Out” has garnered an unheard of nearly 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics of the film reviews website have deemed the movie “inventive, gorgeously animated and powerfully moving. Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics” along with “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “Up.”
“Inside Out” tells the life story of Riley Anderson (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), a spunky 11-year-old girl who loves hockey, but is uprooted from Minnesota when her father starts a new job in San Francisco.
Facing drastic changes in her life for the first time, Riley is faced with the challenges of attending a new school, making new friends, adjusting to new surroundings and attempting to fit in as she’s enters a very tumultuous time in life—childhood to the teen years.
Like all humans, Riley is guided by her emotions—Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in “Headquarters,” the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.
Joy (Amy Poehler) is her most dominant emotion, quarterbacking the headquarters of Riley’s mind, so that she maintain her happy, cheerful little girl persona. Riley’s supporting emotions are Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)—all of whom pipe in at one point or another with their input, but with Joy frequently making the decision for the group.
“Come on, group hug! You too, Anger,” as Joy rallies the emotions at one point. But Anger predictably retorts: “Don’t touch me!”
When Sadness causes a serious mishap, leading to the loss of Riley’s “core memories,” Sadness and Joy—plus the core memories—are inadvertently sucked into Riley’s subconscious mind. In this place, Riley cannot access her emotions of Sadness and Joy, nor her core memories, leaving her with the inability to express any emotion—except Fear, Anger and Disgust.
Due to their predicament, Sadness and Joy must work their way back to Headquarters. It’s a seemingly impossible undertaking that must be completed soon or every defining memory that Riley cherishes—hockey, her friends, her goofy side and her family—will crumble, forcing her to become an empty shell of a person with the inability to feel.
The race-against-time scenario featuring the five emotions shows the audience that each emotion is essential and part of life. Along the way, Pixar creatively and amusingly gives a physical and colorful form to nearly every aspect and nuance of the mind—from the “subconscious prison,” déjà vu, “imagination land,” abstract thought, light bulbs to plug in for ideas, crates for facts and opinions, memories getting stored in shelves and the train of thought that runs through our heads.
The film’s deep storytelling and emotion may seem complicated for younger moviegoers, but they can relate to what Riley goes through—fear about what could happen to her, disgust at what she doesn’t understand, anger when things go wrong, sadness when she is at her lowest and joy when things can still go well even after all of that.
“Inside Out” also has deep underlying themes that adults will connect with, including the sometimes awkward and tumultuous journey towards adulthood and parenting with love.
Featuring animation that is breathtaking and bright, “Inside Out” is both an adventure and coming-of-age movie. Far from a faith-based film, “Inside Out” emphasizes biblical principles, especially the importance of family and the importance of well-being—the Bible says in Galatians 5:22 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace …”
It’s a good reason to let your emotions run wild at the cineplex to catch this instant classic.
Content Watch: “Inside Out” is rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action. In Riley’s mind, she has a machine that makes imaginary boyfriends. Several of Riley’s imaginary boyfriends fall off the edge of a cliff. Death is implied, as they keep saying, “I would die for Riley.” Fear is often on the receiving end of cartoon violence. Anger realizes that Riley knows all the curse words, and says, “This is the ….” but he is bleeped by Fear. Characters are put into mild peril. A dog is apparently cut by half in a nightmare sequence. Overall, the movie is emotionally intense, but family friendly and safe for small kids.
Eric Tiansay is a freelance writer for charismamag.com.