Inside Out – Best Pixar Movie Ever! (Spoiler-Free Review)

Theatrical poster for Inside Out, Pixar's newest animated movie
Theatrical poster for Inside Out, Pixar’s newest animated movie

Quite simply, Inside Out is the best Pixar movie ever made.

I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.  No, really.

I knew it would be good.  After all, it was directed by Pete Docter who also directed my (until now) favorite Pixar movie, Up.  And it starred Amy Poehler who is just one funny comedian.  Of course, with Mindy Kaling involved, I knew it would tickle my funny bone.  But what I wasn’t prepared for was the roller coaster of …well, emotions that would come up during the course of the movie.  As Amy put it, “I just love the crazy amount of heart that’s in this film.  In minutes you go from crying to laughing. And it just looks so incredibly beautiful. It is like a world that feels very familiar and really magical at the same time.”

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? -- Pixar Animation Studios takes audiences inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Guided by her five Emotions - Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voice of Lewis Black) - Riley struggles to adjust, and when Fear, Disgust and Anger are left in control, even a simple family dinner takes an unexpected turn. Also featuring the voices of Diane Lane as Mom, Kaitlyn Dias as Riley and Kyle MacLachlan as Dad, Disney•Pixar's
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? — Pixar Animation Studios takes audiences inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Guided by her five Emotions – Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voice of Lewis Black) – Riley struggles to adjust, and when Fear, Disgust and Anger are left in control, even a simple family dinner takes an unexpected turn. Also featuring the voices of Diane Lane as Mom, Kaitlyn Dias as Riley and Kyle MacLachlan as Dad, Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out” opens in theaters nationwide June 19, 2015. ©2014 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Inside Out is an animated film about the emotions inside 11-year old Riley and how they help her to cope with life after moving to San Francisco. Her family has just traveled across the country from Minnesota and Riley has to find a way to deal with everything new in her life – new friends, new school, new house – as well as juggle her feelings about losing all of those things as well.  Said Dr. Keltner, a consultant on the film and a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, “Part of adolescence—part of growing up—is loss. Loss of friends, loss of childhood—it’s necessary to human development. The way that ‘Inside Out’ really grapples with Riley’s feelings of loss and how her family ultimately surrounds her in that experience is really powerful.”

And while it is an “emotionally” driven film, this movie is also filled to the rafters with action, excitement, laughs and thrills!  Through a series of events, Joy and Sadness are thrown out of headquarters and have to find their way back.  They end up having to navigate their way back through Riley’s different Islands of Personality, take a ride on the Train of Thought, escape from Riley’s Subconscious (along with her greatest fears), and make it out of the Memory Dump!  Along the way, they meet Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong who attempts to help them in their journey while trying to find a way to get Riley to play with him again.  In the meantime, Fear, Disgust, and Anger have to try and help Riley deal with her day-to-day complications with hilarious and sometimes disastrous results.  There were so many truly funny scenes, too.  I love the one in the clip above where Joy is telling Sadness to stay within the “Circle of Sadness.”  Amy Poehler was cute, bubbly, and hilarious and to me Phyllis Smith as Sadness just completely stole the show!  And be sure to look at the headlines on Anger’s newspaper.  They always sum up what’s going on in the movie.

The epitome of Joy and Sadness!
The epitome of Joy and Sadness!

But what surprised me the most is the depth and complexity of this film.  While the movie is fun and simple enough to bring a smile to any child’s face, it is also a deeper exploration about maturity, coming to terms with our emotions, and growing in our understanding of the world.  We do this through the eyes of Joy who wants to keep Riley happy at all costs, but what does that really mean?  According to Docter, the key to happiness—in the movie and beyond—is likely in how you define it. “Joy is able to learn and grow and reconsider what she thinks happiness is,” he says. “In the beginning, it’s all about laughter and ice cream—and there’s nothing wrong with that. But life shows us that it’s so much deeper.”  This movie truly has something for everyone.

Inside Out starts in theaters on June 19th.  Make sure to be there!

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