It’s always safe to head into a Pixar movie with the assumption that you will ball your eyes out (“Up” you know what you did). I would recommend bringing a box (or two) of tissues with you the “Inside Out.”
“Inside Out” is about the inner lives of us all, really, although in this case, that story is told from the perspective of the personified emotions of an 11-year-old girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). We see her discover the world, first with Joy (Amy Poehler), followed quickly by Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and also Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black). All five of these anthropomorphized parts of Riley’s personality work together in headquarters, taking turns at the helm, doing their best to keep Riley alive and (for the most-part) happy.
Joy pretty much rules the roost until Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco (a nightmare for a hockey-loving pre-teen). Watching Riley and Joy grapple with Sadness, while trying the be the “happy girl” that she wants to be for her family, is so achingly heartbreaking, and gosh-darn refreshing.
This film accomplishes so many wonderful things, but in a way that’s never preachy or condescending, the kind of quality storytelling that we’ve come to expect from Pixar, but they’ve truly outdone themselves with this one. With Riley, they address not only the complexity of the mind, especially on the cusp of puberty, but also the pressures that are put on women and young girls to “smile.” It’s so smart, it will blow your mind.
It’s funny too. I swear. Most of the humor comes from glimpses inside the headquarters of adults, mostly Riley’s Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Kyle MacLachlan), but even here there are some super-intelligent choices made, that I would tell you about if I were the kind of person who ruins movies, but I’ll keep this spoiler free.
Pixar’s done some pretty amazing things over the years, but what they’ve done with “Inside Out,” taking the incredibly intricate thing that is the human psyche and putting it in simple terms, without being simplistic. In a word, it’s mind-blowing.