The general story, of five walking talking emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) controlling a young girl’s emotional life and decision-making from inside her head seemed just plain silly to me when the trailers for Inside Out were first released. What I couldn’t have possibly anticipated was how much insight we’ get through what seems to be such a simplistic concept into the way these five emotions interact as we grow up.
Inside Out works for two reasons. First, the voice-casting couldn’t have been better, especially for Riley’s emotions. Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Killing, and Bill Hader- all very funny people- are the perfect companions for this wild ride through Core Memories, The Train of Thought, The Subconscious, and Abstract Thought (look out for that last one). There’s a lot of fun to be had with this idea and the good people at Pixar don’t miss a chance.
Second, with all the insanity and cartoony visuals in Riley’s inner life, the creative team never forget the importance of keeping her real life believable. It doesn’t hurt that the animation of Riley, her parents, and her surroundings are so real they’re scary. It’s more than that though. Her memories and the mini-crisis she faces when she moves to San Francisco are handled just right, making this Pixars’ most moving film since Toy Story 3.