Inside Out Review

by Fernando Lyons



 Inside Out is the latest animated feature length movie from Disney/Pixar, and is a comedy adventure shown from the perspective of an 11 year old's (Riley voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) mind.  The movie deals with Riley's fluctuating emotional states as she deals with her family's relocation from Minnesota to San Francisco.  The main characters are all based on Riley's emotional states, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Louis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).    


Perhaps my favorite aspect of Inside Out is it's originality.  While the themes may vary, a lot of these animated features seem to follow a similar pattern.  The routine is, 1) humorous beginning, 2) terrible event, 3) start mission, 4) lose hope/fall out, 5) reconcile and to save the world, 6) celebratory song and dance number.  While this movie did have some of those elements, it didn't seem as 'by the numbers'.  This movie is in essence a psychological thriller/action adventure combination.  I'm not sure if my explanation will make sense, or do the movie justice, but bear with me.  The adventure begins when Sadness' bumbling causes herself, along with Joy and all of Riley's good memories, to be ejected from Riley's mental headquarters, leaving Fear, Anger, and Disgust in control of Riley's emotions.  At this point, Riley begins to go on a downward spiral emotionally, and starts having a difficult time coping with her new surroundings.  Joy and Sadness must return to the headquarters with Riley's good memories before Riley's mental state and personal relationships are permanently damaged.  If that plot explanation sounds weird, and/or I totally lost you, just trust me when I tell you that it works.  


Because the characters in the movie were all based on emotional qualities of an 11 year old girl having to adjust to her new city, house, school, and friends, every character would have their chance to shine in this movie.  While Joy and Sadness get the majority of the screen-time, I never felt as if any character was lost in the shuffle.  It was great to see Fear, Anger, and Disgust fumble around the headquarters in order to maintain some type of emotional balance for Riley, in the absence of Joy and Sadness.  Although their efforts were disastrous, and resulted in Riley's emotional outbursts, these scenes provided some of the movies'  most hilarious moments.  Perhaps my favorite character was Bing Bong (Richard Kind), who Joy and Sadness encounter in their quest back to headquarters.  He is Riley's childhood imaginary friend, and is part elephant, part cat, and part cotton candy.  He not only provided some moments that were gut-busting hilarious, but provided the movie's most emotional moment as well.    

Disney/Pixar has always maintained a high standard for visual quality in their productions, and this movie is no exception.  The characters which represented each emotion were colorful and cute.  The creative physical representation of Riley's mental landscape is not only unique and aesthetically appealing, but it opened up all kinds of story telling possibilities.  While some parts of Riley's mind contain her good memories, and are represented in a fun amusement park-like fashion, there are some weird areas that represent abstract thought, and some nightmarish areas which represent her bad and lost memories.  Various visual styles were incorporated into this movie, which made watching Joy and Sadness traverse these diverse areas on their quest to return to headquarters more enjoyable.     


Because the movie dealt with emotions that we can all relate to in one way or another, it is one of those movies that didn't have to try to hard to be funny.  The humor was easy, natural, and sometimes unexpected.  I never felt that any of the humorous moments were manufactured, forced, or calculated.  This is one of those movies that will appeal to a wide audience.  Inside Out is an entertaining movie that is funny, action packed, emotional, and thought-provoking.  This is one if Disney/Pixar's best efforts to date, and a movie that you should not hesitate to see on the big screen.     

Bottom Line:

+Original Concept, Great Story, Great Characters, Great Aesthetics, Funny 

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