Disney and Pixar have a long history of making films that are visually beautiful, witty enough to transcend generational gaps, as well as being so emotionally resonant they cause many to shed a few tears. We saw it with Toy Story in 1995, Finding Nemo in 2003, Up in 2009, and now with their ambitious new offering Inside Out.
This film takes viewers on a colourful journey through the mind of spirited 11-year-old Riley Anderson (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), whose dad’s new job results in her being uprooted from her Midwest life to cosmopolitan San Francisco. This puts distance between Riley and the things she holds most dear; particularly happy memories shared with her family, friends and hockey team.
However in a daring cinematic move, we get an intimate and multidimensional glimpse into the inner workings of her complex mind, and the personified core emotions that steer and navigate Riley through her transition to a new city, house and school. These emotions are embodied in optimistic leader Joy brought to life by Amy Poehler, the opinionated and sassy Disgust embodied by Mindy Kaling, the ever-interfering Sadness voiced by Phyllis Smith, the irrationally cautious Fear voiced by Bill Hader and the aggressive Anger voiced by Lewis Black, who is on fire in the film (quite literally).
But when Joy and Sadness find themselves isolated from Headquarters, the two mismatched emotions are forced to work together to find their way back while forcing the remaining emotions to take the reigns in an effort to keep Riley stable. However their struggle to operate without Joy results in differences of opinion among the dynamic group and ultimately generates chaotic, out-of-character responses in Riley’s life and in the way she interacts with her parents – one particularly hilarious encounter occurring at the dinner table, where the inner dialogues of Riley and her parents manifest in plenty of married-life miscommunication and pre-teen angst.
Despite operating under the guise of being a kids film, it strikes the perfect balance between having enough witty banter to appease parents, and being visually appealing enough to keep children enthralled by journeying along with Joy and Sadness through the colourful inner landscape of the mind; from following the path of the rolling memory balls, to viewing the giant Islands of Personality that resemble amusement parks, to hopping on the literal Train of Thought that runs through the psyche, as well as visiting the Hollywood studio-esque Dream Production Centre and Imagination Land – which is full of talking clouds and dream boyfriends.
The film is 94 minutes of the high quality visuals we have come to expect, paired with an audaciously refreshing concept and delivered by convincing characters who convey very relatable dialogue; such as the mind workers who dispose of fading memories like phone numbers and all the songs Riley learnt during her four years of piano lessons, save for Chopsticks and Heart and Soul.
Although there are times the underlying messages may fly above some children’s heads, this film should be commended on its ability to break down many complex psychological concepts in order to aid greater understanding, while emphasising the need for an empathetic support network and emotional balance in the functioning of a healthy mind.
The film is produced by Jonas Rivera and directed by Peter Docter, who are both adept in working on other Disney Pixar films like Up. And although it has been two years since the last release, it is well worth the wait as they deliver a warm film full of heart and humour and is probably one of the most moving children’s films I have ever seen. Props should also be given to Pixar for the inclusion of adorable short film Lava, but fair warning – the song is even more catchy than the Triple-Dent Gum jingle and will be on replay in your head for days.
Inside Out will be released in Australia on June 18th, so store that date in your memory and catch the film at a cinema near you!