Inside Out

Certificate: U

Running Time: 1hr 34 minutes

Director: Pete Docter (Co-director: Ronaldo Del Carmen)

Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Lewis Black

Rating: *****

Pixar’s Inside Out is a joyful, heart tugging film which made me both laugh and cry. Pete Docter, the genius behind both Monsters Inc. (2001) and Up (2009), is known for his emotional directing techniques which he continues to  use slowly and tenderly within Inside Out.  This animation is the studio’s finest, due to its imaginative CG animated storytelling.

Inside Out revolves around Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a happy 11 year-old girl with loving parents, great friends, and a passion for hockey. Within the subtle monitoring of her five personified emotions; Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Anger (Lewis Black), who navigate Riley’s ups and downs in her life they ensure her day always ends a joyful one and Riley’s core memories remain mainly happy ones. However when Riley and her parents have to move to San Francisco due to her father’s new job, it is a challenge for Riley to always remain happy as Sadness looms heavily in the back of her mind. Although Joy attempts to keep Riley seeing the bright side of life, the pre-teen faces disappointments that throws her emotions into chaos. As Riley faces one frustrating situation after another, Disgust, Fear, and Anger attempt to keep their girl from mental collapse, while Joy and Sadness embark on a dangerous adventure back to Headquarters.

I found Inside Out to be a fresh and original story from the animation studios, for me making it the best Pixar film in years, with its mixture of thought-provoking human drama (for both kids and adults), and an imaginative premise and creative adventure. Docter injects entertaining but equally refined insight into how emotions influence behaviour, enabling the audience to find self-discovery and reflection, regardless of age; therefore it is a must-see for children, parents, and regular movie-goers.

The voice casts are exceptional, as they are intimate and warm, yet funny and original within their performances as the emotions. Amy Poehler leads the cast as Joy, the comedy actress brings her character to life providing layers to what could be seen as a one dimensional character.  The heart of the story reflects the deeper meaning of each emotion shown through the five protagonists especially Joy who struggles with her own fear, disgust, sadness and anger which breathes life into what may have been a clichéd outline.

Sadness is instrumental in many of Inside Out‘s funniest and most powerful scenes. Kaling, Hader, and Black are given less to do, but their characters are not extras or afterthoughts as the directors ensure each has a spotlight to shine in the movie, and makes it apparent that each emotion is essential in maintaining Riley’s safety and happiness.

Pete Docter and Co-director Ronaldo Del Carmen have created a beautiful and dynamic film, with Pixar’s evolving depiction of CG, the animated characters expressions and body language are vital to the non-verbal understanding of emotions.  The studio seems to have taken advantage of the cartoonish style to accentuate the human emotion. and these animated techniques add to the warmth and tenderness of the story and the balance between Riley’s real life conflicts and the creative imaginative internal drama of her emotions.

Inside Out is thoroughly entertaining and is an important reflection on the power of emotion, which is put on screen in a wonderful way which both children and adults can reflect upon. This is a must see.

Written by Harley Gower.