Of all the Pixar movies I have seen over the past decade, the studio’s latest offering–Inside Out–is one of the most unique. It takes a small story and expands it to mind-blowing proportions.
The movie follows a young girl named Riley, taking viewers inside her mind (a la Osmosis Jones, without the crude humor), which acts as a control center that characters Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust operate. Memories filter in and are stored, contributing to the foundational pillars of Riley’s mind–family, friends, her favorite sport, hockey, etc.. Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler of Parks and Recreation fame) is the unofficial leader of the group–strong and upbeat. Sadness (logically) is the mopey, sluggish member of the group, and also the one who doesn’t seem to quite belong. The others–well, you can probably guess what they’re like too.
When Riley and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco, this means not only a new house but a new school and new friends. Before long, circumstances cast Riley’s mind into turmoil and only a team effort from Riley’s “control group” can prevent disaster.
The movie wisely forgoes any attempt at portraying a “realistic” psychology (which would probably be boring) and instead makes full comedic use of the concept of personified emotions–both in Riley’s mind and occasionally the minds of other characters in the story. The story, while straightforward, is still entertaining and manages to comment on the importance of family and friends in a “more than subtle, less than heavy-handed” sort of way.
Though not as flashy as The Incredibles, scenic as Brave, or humorously bizarre as Monsters, Inc., Inside Out tells a simple story well. It’s a movie most all ages will enjoy (at least judging from the audience at the showing I attended and their reactions).
All in all, Inside Out is another win for Pixar Studios.