If you were to imagine the inside of your head, or wherever it is that emotions reside, you would, if you were the animators at Disney Pixar, come up with an insistently chirpy thing, a droopy thing, a wrinkled nose thing, a red-hot thing, and a shivery thing. Those would stand in for, respectively: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear.
Those are the buttons that 11-year-old Riley presses when she encounters life. Or do those buttons press her? ‘Inside Out’ is a lovely idea with a great novelty factor which picks on what goes on in our imagination and in our innermost recesses, and gives it a face and voice : the film is aimed at children and adults both, because hey, all those emotions—the primary ones– reside in us all.
Riley (voiced by Dias) relocates from Minnesota to San Francisco, and finds herself in a place she’s never been before. There’s the physical change, from the flat snow-bound hockey fields to the up-and-downness of ‘Frisco. The parental unit is in a flux: dad’s (Maclachlan) under stress because of a new business, mom ( Lane) is stretched keeping everything in place. And the pre-pubescent Riley herself, working up to be a proper teen, has to face the challenges of a new school: will she be accepted, or will the cool kids hate her on sight?
We’ve all been where Riley has. Or at least in some of those situations. So there’s an instant connect. We feel for her when she feels sad, we cheer when she’s happy, and we get it, we do, when she’s being mean and ‘ornery with the ones we love the most. Because that’s what we do.
The five emotions rule in the ‘headquarters’, changing and chopping each minute, keeping pace with Riley. The physical attributes handed out to the Place of Imagination, the Train of Thought, Dreams, Memories –core and others-, are distinctive, and the subconscious is dark and scary, like all things `sub’ ought to be. And then there’s Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong, who shows up to show us the way home.
Occasionally, the pace slows, just a tad. And a few places feel both frantic and flat, despite the 3D. But the rest of it is a delight : each emotion has its place, and it is only when Joy ( Poehler) discovers the vital importance of Sadness ( Smith) that balance is restored, and everything becomes all right with the world.
You want to be happy? You have to learn how to be sad, experience it, and work through it. It is a life lesson, for eleven year-olds-going –on-twelve. And for the rest of us, at whatever age we may be at.
Voices of Kaitlyn Dias, Amy Poehlor, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane, Kyle Maclachlan, Richard Kind
Directors : Pete Doctor, Ronnie Del Carmen