• Inside Out (2015) -- A gorgeously realized emotional examination of emotions, 10/10.
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The PG-rated story bounces between these parallel narratives; one of an 11-year-old forced to deal with being away from everything she's ever known - and the other thread unravels inside her own mind, as her emotions struggle to put back together her crumbling personality. Although the concept of visualizing actual emotions as controllers inside someone's brain is similar to the decades-old FOX sitcom, "Herman's Head" - this family-friendly plot is more exciting and more ambitious.
Amy Poehler leads the group as the energetic voice of "Joy". Her upbeat enthusiasm really brings her colorful blue-haired character to life, constantly reminding her colleagues to "Think positive!" As her direct counterpart, Phyllis Smith is wonderful as the mopey and pessimistic "Sadness" who is quick to retort, "I'm positive that you'll get lost!" In slightly smaller roles, Bill Hader plays a paranoid interpretation of "Fear", Mindy Kaling contemptuously represents "Disgust", while Lewis Black is terrific in the appropriately cast role of "Anger". But special mention needs to be made for Richard Kind as the pragmatic imaginary friend - he's smart and resourceful, but keenly aware of his own mortality. Which makes his final scene so much more powerful and gut-wrenching.
The brightly colored narrative balances these heavier, tear-jerking moments with plenty of laugh-out-loud gags and gimmicks. There's lots of grown-up humor and classic movie references sprinkled throughout as well. One standout sequence during a contentious dinner argument switches perspectives between the controlling emotions of the mom character, played by Diane Lane, and the inattentive father, played by Kyle MacLachlan. The jokes here are based on tired stereotypes, but they're well executed, and undeniably hilarious - as the emotions inside MacLachlan are too busy watching sports to respond appropriately.
Even though many of the characterizations of our personalities - represented here by giant mechanical floating islands - are grossly over-simplified, it is extraordinary how well "Inside Out" manages to visualize the elements that make us who we are with such inventive and fascinating designs. As Joy and Sadness attempt to return back to headquarters, they inadvertently take us on a full tour of this little girl's psyche, exploring everything from her forgotten memories and subconscious to the dream studio and imagination land.
Michael Giacchino continues to have a banner year - after his wonderful work on "Jupiter Ascending", "Tomorrowland", and "Jurassic World" - this might be his best work yet, a bubbly and compassionate composition that perfectly underscores all of the goofy hi-jinks and somber lows. A clever, yet approachable film that successfully deconstructs the complexities of emotions with beautiful and inspired animation, this is a fantastic adventure that demands self-reflection of your own memories. The experience should leave audiences of all ages laughing, crying, and wondering about who we really are inside our own minds.
Often metaphorical and playful, this movie works because it understands human behavior so effortlessly - with every reaction and outburst ringing true. Although following a slightly older girl may have allowed for an even more interesting set of dilemmas, "Inside Out" remains a gorgeously realized emotional examination of emotions. Basically perfect, I have no trouble scoring this a TEN out of ten.
Please stop complaining about sequels and reboots, and support this film... Pixar has definitely done it again.