As an adult, you adore it the more you think about it. Inside Out is a great kid’s movie though, the animation glistens, the reach is ultimately optimistic, and it imparts sensitive and wise messages about gaining emotional maturity and growing up. How’s this for concept? It takes place inside the brain of an 11-year old girl, her name Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), who has just undergone a move from Minnesota to San Francisco without much warning from her parents. You can say it. Poignancy. There’s gonna be a lot of poignancy in this tale from Pete Docter, the respected animator of Pixar’s “Monster’s Inc.” and “Up.”
Various characters inner-working the girl are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Louis Black), and imaginary friend Bing-Bong (Richard Kind). They all fight to commandeer the control console where they create emotional responses within the girl. There are islands floating in mental space dedicated to Riley’s favorite sport hockey or the stock warehouse of being goofy. There are orbs dedicated to core memories that have mostly been through Joy’s instrumental hands, but occasionally Sadness has sullied them.
The bulk of the story is a long adventure devoted to Joy and Sadness getting lost in Riley’s mindscape, and they have to find their way back to the control room. My favorite visual splendors are the corridors of stored memory banks (the orbs are like collected marbles). Anyway, without Joy in the control room, Riley goes through an unmanageable emotional tizzy while she adjusts to school, deplores for the first time the communication with her parents, and deliberates running away from home. Joy would get back there right away to be in charge, but she is weighed down by Sadness.
There’s a lot of emotional metaphors like that, and that’s what makes “Inside Out” wonderful. But what makes it wise is the life lesson that sometimes you need a little rub of sadness in order to emotionally grow as well. It’s impossible not to feel something here.
Note: “Inside Out” is preceded by a superlative animated short called “Lava,” nearly at the top of all Pixar shorts. Don’t be late.
94 Minutes. Rated PG.
FAMILY MOVIE / MILD & CHARMING / WEEKEND FAMILY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Innerspace” (1987); “Osmosis Jones” (2001); “Ratatouille” (2007); “Toy Story 3” (2010).