I’ve been a fan of Pixar since I was really young, and have grown up enjoying just about every movie they’ve released. However, the past few years have been lacking any truly great Pixar films, as they seemed to have temporarily shifted focus to sequels after the success of Toy Story 3. The thing is, the sequels never had a chance at matching the quality of the originals, leaving me desperate for something new.
Inside Out is just that. It’s unique, smart, infinitely clever, and has more heart and emotion than almost any other Pixar movie I’ve seen. While the movie’s bright colors, zany humor, and energetic characters are sure to capture the attention of younger viewers, the story has so much depth and complexity to it that it might just appeal to the parents more than the kids.
The plot of Inside Out focuses on eleven-year old Riley Anderson, a generally happy and upbeat young girl who loves playing hockey, hanging out with her friends, and goofing off with her parents. However, when her family makes the sudden move from Minnesota to San Francisco, Riley finds her world literally turned inside out.
While moving to a new state is an experience nearly every child goes through at some point in their life, it’s never an easy transition, especially for someone as old as Riley who’s already at the precipice of a whole new stage of life. The changes and feelings going on inside Riley are beautifully represented by her five core emotions; Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, and Fear.
Each of these core emotions are unique characters in their own rights, and it’s through their eyes that we see Riley develop throughout the story. What makes Inside Out so special, however, is the way it also develops the emotions themselves, who quickly prove to be some of Pixar’s most endearing characters yet.
Joy, perfectly voiced by the always hilarious Amy Poehler, is the leader of the group, and has helped to guide Riley through life since the day of her birth. She’s just as excitable and optimistic as you can imagine, but she never once comes across as annoying thanks to the cleverly written dialogue and Poehler’s impeccable delivery.
Sadness acts as a co-star alongside Joy, and despite her permanent, droopy demeanor, it’s hard not to fall in love with her well-meaning, but often misguided, attempts at helping Joy. Phyllis Smith is also perfectly cast here, as she does a great job at giving life to a character that could’ve easily outlived her welcome.
The rest of the emotions are all great as well, although they serve more as comedic relief than Joy and Sadness do. Fear, voiced by Bill Hader, is nervous and always jumping to the absolute worst case scenario; Disgust, voiced by Mindy Kaling, is stubborn and convinced her way is always the right way; and Anger, voiced by Lewis Black, has the best lines in the movie by far, and his grouchy personality is a lot of fun to watch.
While I could go into the plot more, I’m not going to, simply because it’s at its best when you don’t know what’s coming. I sat down to watch Inside Out with hardly any context outside of a single trailer and positive word of mouth, and walked away more surprised and touched than I had ever expected to be.
Suffice to say, the plot of Inside Out is a moving and beautifully stitched together coming-of-age story that manages to make you laugh while also pulling at your heartstrings in that special way that Pixar is known for. I loved every minute of it, and still find myself thinking about it several days after seeing it.
My only critique, if you can even call it that, is that the movie might not appeal to kids as much as it will to older audiences simply because the content of the story might go over their heads. There’s plenty of colorful visuals and wacky characters to keep younger viewers entertained, but the story doesn’t shy away from the complexity in its premise, which could alienate some of the young kids.
Now, this is one of the things I personally loved about Inside Out, as it proved that a movie can appeal to both kids and adults without blatantly favoring one over the other. However, there are moments where the story feels a little more mature than a typical kids’ movie, which may, or may not, leave some kids scratching their heads.
Once again though, this is one of the reasons that Inside Out resonated with me the way it did. It’s one of the few animated movies to really get me thinking, and I walked away absolutely in love with everything I saw. The characters are endlessly entertaining, the story rich with depth and emotion, and the humor as crazy and hilarious as it comes.
Inside Out is the full package, and easily ranks up there as one of Pixar’s very best offerings and it’s already one of my favorite movies of the year. It’s one of those few specials animated movies that has nearly universal appeal, and I enjoyed it so much that I’m actually hoping we get a sequel in a few years, simply because I want to see more from these amazing characters.