A Truly Emotional Experience: A Review of “Inside Out”

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After making it through the Pixar-free year of 2014 (which at least had great movies like Big Hero 6 and The Lego Movie), it’s exciting that the studio has produced two films to be released by Disney this year: the comedy-drama Inside Out (which came out on June 19) and comedy The Good Dinosaur (scheduled for November 25.) Hopefully the latter film can measure up to the former: in my opinion, Inside Out is easily one of Pixar’s finest films yet (it’s at least the best one since 2010’s Toy Story 3.)

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Inside Out tells the story of five emotions that control the mind of a girl named Riley Anderson (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias.) The personifications of Joy (Amy Poehler); Sadness (Phyllis Smith); Fear (Bill Hader); Anger (Lewis Black); and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) all live together in a control tower that sees life through Riley’s eyes, and they react according to what she sees. Each emotion’s action creates a new representative memory that appears as what looks like a colored crystal ball. There are a vast number of memories, but the most significant milestones are the “core memories,” kept safe in the control room. Those memories power islands that make up Riley’s personality, such as Goofball Island and Friendship Island.

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Riley lives a relatively normal life in Minnesota until she turns eleven, when she and her family have to relocate to San Francisco for her father’s new job. Things in the control room of Riley’s mind get chaotic when Sadness can’t resist touching her core memories: a move that can permanently change happy memories into sad ones. Joy tries to prevent this, but then Sadness causes Riley to cry while introducing herself to her new class, creating a sad core memory. When Joy tries to get rid of it, all of the core memories spill out of their case: while trying to put them back, she, Sadness and the core memories get sucked through a “memory tube.” While Joy and Sadness try to navigate their way back through the “Long-Term Memory” labyrinth, the only emotions left in control of Riley are Fear, Disgust and Anger: all parties involved have a difficult experience ahead, to say the least.

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I was really intrigued when I first heard Inside Out’s concept: there are so many available possibilities, and I think that the finished product turned out great (the producers consulted actual psychologists for research, after all.) The world inside Riley’s mind is incredibly imaginative, with lots of imagery representative of various aspects of thought. Though the journey throws a lot of material at the viewer, it’s all presented in an entertaining way that even kids should enjoy.

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Like other great Pixar films such as Toy Story 3 and Up, Inside Out can make you laugh out loud or get choked up enough to cry (I’m not ashamed to admit that I did both.) It’s an incredibly smart film that can appeal to anyone: adults can appreciate the portrayal of how one’s mind changes when growing up, while kids can enjoy the colorful characters and their shenanigans. I strongly recommend seeing Inside Out: it’s hard to say if it’s “better” than Pixar’s other A-grade films such as WALL-E, Up, or the Toy Story franchise, since they all work in their own unique ways. With so many good ideas in one film, it’d be a serious shame if Inside Out never got sequels (the hilarious ending sequence, for example, opens up a lot more possibilities.)

I give Inside Out 5 out of 5 crowns:

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About the Author

Mark Theroux

Mark is g33ky about a lot of things, including music (especially his hero “Weird Al” Yankovic); movies (just about anything goes in that category); TV (ranging from older Simpsons to Breaking Bad to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic); and video games (he started with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for Sega Genesis, and his modern consoles of choice are the Nintendo 3DS and – most recently – Wii U.) Some of his other favorite things are cats, Chipotle burritos and long walks on the beach. His least favorite things include poison ivy (the plant, not the smokin’ Batman supervillain), rude people and the inevitability of making a typo or two.

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