Inside Out is the sort of film that reminds me why I love movies. It all comes down to one thing: entertainment. Sure, Inside Out isn’t perfect, but it’s pure entertainment from top to bottom. Brimming with Pixar’s intoxicatingly endearing charm, Inside Out is a surefire winner, and one of the best family films from the past few years
Inside Out tells the tale of a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her anthropomorphized emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), who all manage Riley’s emotions inside a command center called “Headquarters,” under Joy’s watchful command. When Riley and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco, their dingy and uncomfortable new home, combined with the stress of leaving friends and attending a new school, leaves Riley thoroughly disheartened. To make matters worse, an accident leads to Joy and Sadness being sucked out of Headquarters, along with the Core Memories that form the basis of Riley’s personality. Joy and Sadness have to find a way back to Headquarters as the other emotions try (and often fail) to help Riley get through everyday life.
Right out of the gate, I was wowed by the immense production values and attention to details. The incredible expressiveness in the facial animations of every character left my jaw solidly planted on the floor. But the most impressive aspect of the film’s visuals was the emotions themselves. Their skin seemed to be made of bubbling light, softly glowing in whatever color was associated with that emotion, and their cartoonish bodily proportions made every single character immediately lovable.
But the appeal of Inside Out doesn’t stop at the visuals. The animation helps bring the characters to life, but much of the personality of each character comes from the absolutely superb voice acting. Amy Poehler always sounds like she’s brimming with glee, while Phyllis Smith always sounds shy and disheartened. Before seeing the film, I had wondered whether the various emotions would come off as two-dimensional, but Inside Out manages the interaction of the emotions masterfully. As Joy and Sadness spend more and more time around one another, Joy gains a greater appreciation for the virtues and usefulness of Sadness. Without sacrificing much of her overall cheeriness, Joy grows as a character through her learned respect for Sadness, while the other emotions are used as a reliable source of chortle-worthy jokes. Fear’s obsessive worries about all possible misfortunes, Disgust’s flippant attitude towards everything, and Anger’s broiling eagerness to use the one curse word Riley knows were all powerfully charming.
I was also floored by how well the film could entertain viewers of any age. Much of the humor was both accessible, clever, and silly. The theater I was watching in shook with laughter when Anger started bellowing about wanting to use the one curse word that Riley knows. There’s also one hilarious scene in which you see the emotions inside Riley’s mother (who are all attentive and responsible) and the emotions inside her father (who are all too distracted by a hockey game to notice what their wife is saying). There are so many moments like this throughout the film, and it all adds up to a movie that’s 100% fun.
In all honesty, it’s tough for me to find any serious issues with Inside Out. It’s not going to satisfy folks who want something dark and serious, but when it comes to family films, Inside Out is easily one of the best choices. It’s bursting at the seams with creativity, cleverness, and charm. If you want to see something that’ll draw a smile on your face in permanent marker, find the time to give Inside Out a watch.
*Images from Forbes.com, video from The Ellen Show and Pixar