D: Pete Doctor & Ronaldo Del Carmen. W: Story credit to Doctor/Del Carmen and script to Josh Cooley & Meg LeFauve. Voice talents of: Amy Poehler/Phyllis Smith/Mindy Kaling/Bill Hader/Lewis Black/Diane Lane/Kaitlyn Dais/Kyle MacLachlan/Richard Kind.
Each time Pixar rolls out a new film I think most of us get secretly excited, despite our age. No matter if you are not a fan of animation, there seems to always be a Pixar film that hits home to everyone. To sound wonderfully cliche, Inside Out has something in it for everyone.
Exploring the inner emotions of eleven year old Riley, Inside Out attempts to make three dimensional the emotions she feels. Inside her head are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. All aptly voiced, it is their distinct reactions to Riley’s life, memories, and choices that propel the film’s narrative as she moves from ice hockey central Minnesota to miserable San Francisco. As little Riley experiences changes so do her emotions as a crisis leads her core memories, shaped like crystal balls, up and out the wrong dispensary tube. Joy and Sadness are sucked up with them and begin their journey to restore Riley.
Much like computer animated 2009’s Up and the three Toy Story films, Inside Out animates people as well as beings. There is a wonderful contrast between the heightened features and shapes of the emotions and the world Riley experiences. Despite the brightness of the film it never reads as cheap. Joy, wonderfully interpreted by SNL alum Amy Poehler, appears to shimmer on screen, radiating the warmth and happiness she represents. She is nearly outdone by beautiful little Sadness who is voiced by NBC’s The Office alum Phyllis Smith. Harkening back to Brad Bird’s Edna in 2004’s The Incredibles, Sadness balances Joy’s energy literally and metaphorically. At one point Joy must physically drag Sadness around, a feeling children and adults can relate to.
The Inside Out journey is universally non-sentimental and has enough charm to sustain the whole film. Honorable mention must be made to Richard King’s voiced Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend found in her stacks of filed away memories. Moments with him, much like Jessie’s under the bed abandonment by her owner in 1999’s Toy Story 2, are haunting. The experience of childhood so fleeting it is forgotten and must give way to the next stage. Thanks to Pixar those moments can feel a bit closer, much like the laughter and cries from the children in the audience. Fleeting, but part of the experience.