Pixar has done it again. Inside Out is a return to form for the animation studio after a string of sequels and more conventional fare. It's a masterful film that uses animation to explore the complexities of human emotions, abstract idea, and feelings in childhood splendidly. Up director Pete Docter has crafted another truly touching and affecting universal story stretching the medium of CG animation.
Amy Poehler is particularly delightful anchoring the voice cast as the cheerleader Joy in charge of the emotions Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), the 11-year-old girl we follow, feels inside her head and seen visually as a command centre. In fact, all of Riley's emotions are represented as anthropomorphized characters (think Herman's Head) including Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). All the voices play well off each other and create a nice mixture together to recreate a sense of physical comedy.
While the mechanics of physically embodied emotions toying with the inner workings of a little girl can get a tad muddled, how the characters represent her actions metaphorically are quite amusing when factored into Riley's burgeoning adolescence. The way sadness inexplicably grows, playing a more meaningful role in life, as she gets older and takes over is a poignant look at the pains of getting older. The film is able to express how we feel and sort of explains the workings of human emotions in such a effortless and recognizable way despite its high concept.
Inside Out succeeds in predictable Pixar fashion as it thoughtfully creates a strange but familiar world reflecting the humanity and feelings we all experience. The way it expresses the story of growing up and growing pains is not only visually appealing but fairly insightful. The film brings real world elements to describe and explore abstract concepts while addressing the evolving nature of memories in a very identifiable yet firmly animated setting.
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