Voice cast: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black
Directed by: Pete Docter
Cert: Gen Running Time 102 mins
If there were such a thing as the happiest place on Earth one imagines it would be Pixar Animation Studios. That it should create something that brings so much joy to millions of people is reason enough but it’s the years spent lovingly creating that joy that make it truly special. The Pixar formula has never been one of instant gratification but crafting movies that aim not only for our hearts but our minds too with movies that stay with the viewer, young or old, long after they have left the cinema. Happy memories to be stored forever in our memory banks.
With Inside Out they have truly surpassed themselves. Nostalgically reminiscent of ‘The Numskulls’ cartoon strip, (published originally in The Beezer in the 1960s), Inside Out runs on a similar notion of having tiny people in our heads controlling, not so much everything we do, but our key emotions.
Taking part largely in the mind of 11 year old Riley, the film carefully navigates us through her mind and the emotions that control her actions, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). For much of her childhood, Joy has been to the forefront but when Riley and her parents move to San Francisco, Riley struggles emotionally causing Sadness to take over. Inside her head, Joy will need Sadness’ help to regain control as Riley’s core happy memories are threatened with extinction.
It’s a simple enough premise but it’s put together with such a thoughtful script that enlightens rather than manipulates. It’s also cute as be-damned with beautifully drawn characters, the emotions having an almost soft and fuzzy Muppet-like exterior. The cast all deliver brilliantly with Amy Poehler in effervescent form as Joy and great chuckles provided by hot-headed Anger and boot-quaking Fear.
Along with being hugely entertaining Inside Out opens a whole new dialogue is how we can discuss emotions and stress with our children. Watching it makes you realise how we are at the mercy of our emotions and how coping with life and its surprises is a constant test when one emotion overpowers the others. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that life is difficult sometimes and writer/director Pete Docter brings his own emotional signature to all his work. From the themes of loss and loneliness in UP to the very makings of happiness in Inside Out, he always manages to make us look at our own life and how we live it. And we are the better for it! Genius.
Watch out too for the extremely cute short film LAVA playing in front. It’s a dreamy little Hawaiian themed tale of a lonely volcano that will make you smile.