“Inside Out” is the 15th effort from Pixar Studios, and for those who have been disappointed with some of its latest entries, Pixar has its mojo back. This is its most visually stunning and emotionally resonant film since “WALL-E.”
The animated movie centers on a little girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) and explores the inside of her mind from the time she’s born. At first, one emotion pops up in the form of Joy (Amy Poehler). As she gets older, Riley is joined by other emotions: Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black — who better?)
Together, the five emotions guide Riley through her day-to-day life and are especially influential in her relationship with her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan).
The inside of Riley’s mind consists of multiple memories that are converted into what is known as the Islands of Personality: There’s Family, Friendship, Hockey, Honesty and Goofball. One day, Sadness touches a happy memory and accidentally turns it into a sad one, which causes it to be unrestored. The rest of the movie features Joy and Sadness trying to chase down this memory and get it back to being happy.
The movie is filled with visual wonders, and the animation is consistently dazzling and functions as part of the story instead of simply existing as something pretty. Some examples of this are places in Riley’s mind such as the Train of Thought and Imagination Land. Think of this movie to some degree as “Inception” for the lunch-box crowd.
The movie is heavier and more complex and detailed than previous Pixar efforts, but that’s one of the things I loved about it. I love how Pixar is somehow able to take ideas that might seem dull and ridiculous and subvert them by adding in enough elements to hold them together.
In addition to its aforementioned outstanding animation, the movie also succeeds with its winning combination of terrific voice work from its superb cast, a witty screenplay and, yes, plenty of high-powered emotion. “Inside Out” puts all of these ingredients together in a package that absolutely charmed me. Welcome back, Pixar. Welcome back.
(Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.)
This review is dedicated to the memory of J.D. Paul.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.