Inside Out is my favorite film so far this summer. It’s clever, exuberant, original, and just a gem. Riley is eleven and loves her life in Minnesota. But now her family is moving to San Francisco. New school. New friends. New ice hockey team. Change is the worst, especially as a pre-teen girl with enough emotions roiling through her body to light up a zillion computer circuits. When we join the movie, the brain is functioning nicely. Command control is harvesting memories, containing stories, and building the life of Riley. But the move brings transition and the brain panel evolves.
Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) all come into play. The voicings are perfect and the inner and outer dialogue are spot on. Dinner time is no longer pleasant. Riley is a time bomb every night and the parents are at a loss with how to handle this new tween creation. And in Riley herself, the islands of goofiness, family, et al are adrift. She’s charging through the day and destroying so much calm that was built in eleven years.
Joy tries to win, but realizes Sadness has to play a part, along with the other emotions. It’s bittersweet and we see loss of innocence arrive. Fortunately, there is a strong family element that tugs at Riley’s heart and she’s able to turn to her parents for help in coping with life’s changes and pain. All emotions come into play and Inside Out proves we need them all to survive. Yes, this is a “kid” movie, but it’s truly for adults who understand the depths of the brain and are still seeking control at times. I loved this film. It’s sublime.