I was worried about Pixar for a while. After Up and Toy Story 3, both their originals and sequels fell short of the mark that they had been building pretty consistently for about 15 years. Brave was decent, Monsters University was an alright, but forced prequel that didn’t have quite the same charm that the first one did, Cars 2 is one I never saw, and one was not released in 2014. Inside Out is their return to original films after 3 years, and it is a brilliant piece of animation and filmmaking that is full of creativity, fun, and more emotional blows than any other film this year.
The voices inside our heads run our lives. We may not give them their own unique voice, but Pixar does.This is the crux of Inside Out—a young girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), moves from her home in Minnesota to San Francisco and must deal with the issues that come along with a major life change. Essentially, this is what Pixar does best—somehow condensing the trials and tribulations we all face in growing up, giving it an adorable facelift, and for whatever reason, reducing us to tears all in the process. This is Pixar at its finest.
Leading the pack of Riley’s emotions is Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, who probably channeled a lot of Leslie Knope into her new role. After a mishap, she finds herself with Sadness, voiced by Phyllis Smith, lost in the mind of Riley as they try to get back her “core memories” all while we see Riley descend farther into depression. At times Inside Out is surprisingly deep, dealing with potentially intense issues, though it handles it with love and care.
Rounding out the voices in Riley’s head are Bill Hader as Fear, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and Lewis Black as Anger. The entire cast is full of hilarious and seemingly perfect-cast roles. Hader embodies the hilarious Fear with a goofiness that he tends to promote in reality. Kaling has some fun playing the snooty and sassy Disgust who loves to be picky. And Lewis is furiously funny in always being the one to jump the gun and take things to anger in an instant. It appears that each character and their respective actor were considered heavily before any roles were cast, and it certainly helps with their chemistry and the performances each voice-actor gives.
Inside Out also represents a new high for Pixar’s animation. Balancing humans with their emotions never feels awkward or contrasting. The amazing and inventive situations and places that the emotions find themselves in are much like the worlds of Wreck-It Ralph. They are brimming with inspiration and could possibly have no end of sequels to make. Yet, the story Inside Out tells is one that is more than enough for one film. Of course, you could make a sequel for it as easily as you could for Wall-E or Brave, but the emotions and strength of its message are perfect for just a one-off.
Pixar has done it once again. With a brilliant cast full of comedy legends and an immensely imaginative setting, Inside Out brings Pixar back to the forefront of animation with an emotional rollercoaster of a story. Go with a box of tissues and be sure to listen to the voices inside your head; they’ll be telling you to be laughing and crying, and it will certainly be hard not to.