Directors: Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen
Voice cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind
Plot: Eleven year old Riley moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, and her five primary emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust, deal with her personality change as she adapts to her new environment.
Review: Pixar is probably the most consistent animation studio there is out there. They are always capable of churning out hits, with stories ranging from talking toys to lost fish to rats who cook to robots that feel and an old man's final adventure with a boy scout.
That last story, Up is one of my favorites, and its director, Pete Docter, co-directs Inside Out with Ronaldo Del Carmen, and they both wrote it as well. The film basically follows the daily activities of the five emotions of eleven year old Riley, starting from the day she was born. It began with just Joy, and then she was joined by Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger. Together they control Riley's emotion centre and collect her memories, which they then store away in her mind to build her personality as she grows. One day her family decides to move from Minnesota to San Francisco, so as Riley struggles to adapt, the emotions struggle to keep control of her. Trouble brews when Joy and Sadness get sucked into her long term memory bank, leaving the other three emotions in charge. Being the lead emotion among them, Joy has to return to Riley's emotion center i.e. "headquarters" before things get out of hand.
On the surface, the five emotions' adventures is almost similar to Woody, Buzz and the rest of Andy's toys in Toy Story, but the truth is, it's much deeper than that. The five emotions have bigger responsibilities here than the toys ever did. The way they react to whatever Riley faces, from meeting new friends to playing hockey to moving away from home, ultimately decides Riley's own reactions and subsequently, what she does in accordance to them. Joy, being the de facto leader among them, does her best to keep Riley happy while letting Fear, Disgust and Anger chip in whenever necessary, but doesn't quite know how to deal with Sadness, who is pretty much her opposite. When the two get lost in the girl's memories, their adventure to make it back is quite perplexing and fun at the same time, as viewers are introduced to Riley's personality islands, and we get to see stuff like Train Of Thought, Imagination Land, meet Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong and the memory dump, where memories go when they're forgotten. I gotta hand it to Docter and Del Carmen for thoroughly thinking this whole thing out and putting it on screen, with solid animation to boot. Of course, when it comes to Pixar, the animation never ceases to amaze, so I don't have to elaborate too much in that regard.
But in every Pixar story, the most important moment is the dramatic climax, when the point of the story has to come across to the viewer. In this one, Docter and company pulled it off so well, I almost cried, and I haven't felt that way since Jessie's backstory in Toy Story 2. The crux of the story is how Joy and Sadness have to save Riley's personality and memories, which are slowly crumbling away, and while we see this as a sign of inevitable growth for the girl, we also see Joy understanding fully how everything works and what Sadness' role really is. It all comes together beautifully in the last third of the film, and before that we're treated to plenty of hilarious moments, courtesy of the other three emotions' handling of Riley's behavior, so on the whole, it's just awesome.
If there's any downside to this, well.....it's the opening short that Pixar puts in front of each of their films. This one features singing volcanoes. Yes, you heard me. No offence to the people who came up with this, but it was awful. Truly.
That aside, should you watch Inside Out? Absolutely. Granted, maybe it will be a bit hard to sell this story to really young kids, as I feel adults and younger adults will relate to this better, but from my standpoint, this is one of Pixar's best. Only time will tell if it will achieve classic status. Recommended. (9/10)