Inside Out

10 Overall Score
Performances : 9/10
Story : 10/10
Animation : 10/10

Animation, Clever Concept, Beautiful Emotion, Incredibly Funny

It Ended

The transitions from childhood to young-adulthood to eventual adulthood can be stressful and confusing, to say the least. As we grow older, we grow wiser and keener to understand and adapt to the world on our own. Time passes, and the emotions inside our head become more complicated and difficult to wrestle with, as we lose the naivety of childhood and become more jaded and guarded adults. Those memories of childhood never fade; they just are altered with the wistfulness of nostalgia. We all must grow up sometime, and the process of that maturation can be overwhelming yet nuanced.


No piece of writing, art, or entertainment handles this subject matter as beautifully and emotionally as Pixar’s Inside Out. The newest film from the brain trust behind such animated classics as Toy Story, The Incredibles, Up!, Wall-E, and Finding Nemo (just to name a few) arrives with lofty expectations, as audiences are waiting for a “return to form” of sorts for the company that has charmed us time and time again with their ingenuity, maturity, and wit. Inside Out not only meets even the highest of expectations, it exceeds them.


As with many of the best Pixar films, the premise is creatively “high-concept” and cared for with a balance of incredible imagination and thematic wisdom. What if the voices inside your head that tell you how to feel really were voices inside your head? In the first few minutes of Inside Out, we are introduced to our protagonist on the outside, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year old girl from Minnesota who loves hockey and her family and friends. Growing up with her are the emotions inside of her head, which reside in a headquarters inside of Riley’s brain. They all represent a single dimension of Riley’s emotions, and the actors picked to personify them are perfectly cast in their roles. Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Bill Hader as Fear, Lewis Black as Anger, and Mindy Kaling as Disgust all work so well together in articulating the characters.


The film spends the most time with Joy, who runs the ship and does her best to keep everything relatively happy for Riley, which subsequently means keeping Sadness away from the controls. Things get more complicated when Riley’s parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) are forced to move to San Francisco and start a new life. Gone are the ways of old, as everything begins to change and disrupt within Riley, seemingly for worse. Joy does her best to keep Riley occupied with happy thoughts, but Sadness begins to become more prevalent within the control room. An accident finds Joy and Sadness stranded in the outer areas of the mind, leaving Riley with Disgust, Anger, and Fear at the helm.


To try and narrow down the basic premise of Inside Out does a disservice to the complexity that is working here. The ideas of Inside Out are thoroughly developed and extremely clever points that are used to illustrate the ins and outs of the human mind. To spoil the hundreds of ways that the film manages to surprise and subvert with its visual imagery would just not be fair to those who have yet to experience the film. Just know what director Peter Docter (Monsters Inc., Up!) and his team of animators and writers have conjured up is jaw-droppingly beautiful. As with all of the best Pixar films, the best ideas come with the sheer attention to detail, making Inside Out a film that demands a few rewatches. Those who were worried that this brilliant concept would be wasted have nothing to fear.


Docter and his crew understand how to tell a seemingly simple story with maximum emotional depth. The films of Pixar work so well because they aren’t kids films; they are animated films for adults. The way the studio layers their fantastical worlds and colorful characters with themes and ideas that we all can relate to is what makes their films so timeless. One of their favorite themes to chew on is how we cope with “growing old”, and this idea has never been more forefront than in Inside Out. Here, the emotions are obviously not the subtext, they are the heroes. The emotion within the emotions is therefore heightened, more literal, and probably never more effective. You will be choked up several times throughout Inside Out, as the film is unrelenting in its honesty about growing up. They mine the depths of what that means for us as an individual, what that means for those around us, and what that means for our past and future. It’s a poignant message that is handled with such delicacy and warmth that you cannot help but be moved.


Inside Out is an unbelievable triumph, a truly amazing comeback from the “Golden Standard” of the film industry. They’ve delivered yet another masterpiece, one that will live on throughout generations and cease to amaze as the years pass. As we grow old, we won’t forget Inside Out, we will just appreciate more and more what Docter has done here. It demands to stand among the best films of the Pixar canon and among the best animated films ever made. I hate using hyperbole, but what can I say? My emotions are running wild.



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Author: Andrew Auger View all posts by
Andrew Auger is a student at Marist College and is majoring in Journalism. He is a huge fan of movies, and considers the late film critic Roger Ebert his idol. He hopes to one day be a prestigious film critic just like Mr. Ebert.

456 Comments on "Inside Out"

  1. Teresa Smith Pedone June 17, 2015 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the review Mr. Auger! I had an idea this was going to be good but now know it will be great!!!!

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