If you’ve ever looked at someone and wondered what’s going on inside their head—and who hasn’t?—the new Pixar film “Inside Out” tries to provide some answers. Loosely based on the mood swings of director Pete Docter’s twelve-year-old daughter it’s an action adventure set in the subconscious of a young girl.
The set up is simple. A Minnesotan family, Mom (voice of Diane Lane), Dad (Kyle MacLachlan) and eleven-year-old daughter Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), leave their comfortable Midwestern life behind in favour of business opportunities in San Francisco. Riley leaves behind her friends, her school and her beloved hockey team; everything she’s ever known.
Plopped down in a new city, homesick and surrounded by new people, she becomes moody. She’s completely guided by her emotions, which happen to run things from Headquarters, located deep inside her thinking box. In these San Fran days and nights Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) rule the roost, while Joy (Amy Poehler) tries to hold things together. Navigating Riley’s cerebrum, Joy journeys through long term and core memories, the Islands of Personality and Dream Productions to realize it takes a variety of emotions to make a balanced life.
I don’t know if there is such a thing as an instant classic but “Inside Out” is the best argument for creating the term I’ve come across for some time. From dazzling animation, to a script that toggles between childlike wonder and ingenious introspection “Inside Out” is glued together with a degree of emotional acumen not often found in mainstream film. In other words, it will make you laugh, cry and think.
Like the best of Pixar’s work—“Toy Story,” “Up,” “WALL-E”—“Inside Out” works on multiple levels. It is, first and foremost a family film designed to entertain everyone from the young’uns to grandma, but it’s also simultaneously a flight of fancy and a grounded story about growing up that kids (and anyone who has ever been a kid) will relate to. The movie may deal with abstract thought, but the idea that without sadness there can be no joy, and vice versa, is clear as day.
“Inside Out” is a film that will deepen with repeat viewings, which is probably a good thing as when it hits Blu Ray kids are going to want to watch it again and again, and for once, parents won’t mind joining in.