Every once in a while you just come across a movie that changes your outlook and how to live your life. With Inside Out, Disney/Pixar has changed the emotional game that will make you laugh, make you smile and pull on your heart strings in what has to be there best outing since Up.
Navigating the rough terrain of growing up can never be an easy thing and for Riley this is no exception as her idyllic life in Minnesota gets uprooted and sent to sunny San Francisco. Much like all of us, Riley navigates the pitfalls of life using her primary emotions; Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) , Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). These emotions take up residence in Riley’s mind; aka Headquarters while they advise her on her day to day life. However she is struggling with the move to San Francisco and turmoil ensues at headquarters as both Joy and Sadness get sucked into the memory dump with the core of what makes her unique and special and while Joy is desperate to get back, the rest of the emotions struggle to deal with emotions that they just don’t understand.
What is old is new again, as writer/director Pete Docter and his entire team give us as an audience such an overwhelmingly warm and fuzzy feeling that end results of Inside Out are almost a euphoric state of happiness that have to be experienced to be believed.
The team of writer/director Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen provide us with such a simple but wholly beautiful ride that we have all taken at one point or another in our lives, putting us back in the driver seats for what it feels like to be that age all over again. It doesn’t hammer us with silly tropes or ideas, but instead takes to a level of emotional development that we have all had to go through. They turned psychology into an animated film, and the results are glorious as it shows how all emotions are necessary to be able to survive and interact with other people. This is rich and risky storytelling that isn’t trying to talk down to its audiences but rather it presents the complexity of emotion and it defends it so very beautifully that you won’t be able to help yourself when you start tearing up towards the end of the film.
The direction was spot on and speaks to the entirety of the vision for telling a story of this nature. The casting was flat out perfection as Amy Poehler was a delight as Joy, while Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling & Lewis Black were fantastic as the emotions of Fear, Disgust and Anger respectively. However the absolute breakout star of this film is the brilliant Phyllis Smith (formerly of The Office) as Sadness. In a voice turn for the ages, she channels this sad sack of a character and gives her not only brilliant comedic purpose but dramatic purpose as well. In many ways, Sadness is the very heart of what makes this film tick. The film shows us we need every emotion in our tool chest to get the job done in life and how one builds from others to make up the human experience.
It is a daunting feat to say that any kind of story tellers have put the embodiment of the human experience on to the screen, but Inside Out is exactly that. It is dripping with pure emotion and the only thing that is left for me to suggest is to drink up this cinematic experience with the reverence it deserves as it is easily one of the best films of 2015.