Film Review “Inside Out”

Inside-Out-Official-PosterStarring the voices of: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith
Directed by: Pete Docter
Rated: PG
Running time: 1 hour 34 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

What is your earliest memory? Mine is Christmas 1963. I can’t remember a lot of what went on but some of that day’s events are vivid in my mind. Seeing photos from that day years later convinces me my memories are true. In the new film “Inside Out”, we learn that our life is really made up of memories. Some are fleeting and some permanent. Some are stored indiscriminately and others are put in the core memory. Either way, life isn’t always easy as it seems (or seemed).

Meet Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). She’s had a great life. Popular in school, loving parents and a love for junior hockey, which should be natural since she lives in the snowy Midwest. But one day her dad announces that he’s taken a new job in San Francisco. And soon, everything Riley has ever known, or can remember, is in the past. She doesn’t like her new city – it doesn’t help that the moving van hasn’t shown up yet – and begins to rebel against her folks. But it’s not her fault. Blame her emotions. Seriously. Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). These are the ones helping run Riley’s life, constantly battling and then working to preserve each memory perfectly. Unfortunately what once was a great memory can be altered by another emotion interfering. A perfect day outside can be ruined if Sadness gets her hands on it. Joy does her best to keep things up-beat but she’s only one emotion among an assembly of many.

Like most PIXAR/Disney films, “Inside Out” is technically brilliant. Director Docter, who also directed the original “Monster’s Inc.” and “UP,” winning an Academy Award for the latter, continues what he started in “UP” by bringing emotions to the forefront of the story. What pulls the film down, unfortunately, is that it is so depressing at times, as if Sadness had gotten ahold of the script. Little girls on either side of me at the screening were crying at times and, while it’s nice to know they understood the film, I can’t thank a trip to the multiplex to make my child cry would be something I’m looking forward to.

The film is well cast. Who else could play the always effervescent Joy but Amy Poehler. Her supporting cast of emotions are equally well cast. And they are joined by such familiar voices as Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Diane Lane, Laraine Newman and, of course, PIXAR’s good luck charm, John Ratzenberger. The characters they play are also well crafted, especially Sadness, who sheds tears at the drop of a hat while insisting she knows what “funny” is, like that movie she saw where “the dog died.” Though no dog dies in this movie, some people may go home so depressed they might think that theirs had!

On a brighter note, get to the theatre early enough to catch the new PIXAR short entitled “Lava.” It will definitely make you smile.

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