With "Inside Out," Pixar has done it again. Not only have they delivered a film with stunning animation that will look incredible (no Pixar pun intended) on Blu-Ray, but they have also created a premise that is so smart, so creative, and so original. Just think of all of the different emotions we experience each day. Now imagine that each of those emotions are little people in our heads, controlling our thoughts and storing all of our memories. What a great concept!
As the film begins, a girl named Riley has been born to two very happy parents (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan). As soon as she comes out into the world, we go inside her head and meet Joy (voiced by the insanely talented and hysterical Amy Poehler), her first emotion, which leads to squeals of delight from little baby Riley. Almost immediately, we are introduced to Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith in a scene-stealing role almost comparable to Ellen Degeneres's work in "Finding Nemo"), followed by baby Riley's first cries. The other major emotions at play are Fear (voiced by Bill Hader), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), and Anger (voiced by Lewis Black). All of these emotions help guide Riley through everyday life through the control center in her mind. When Riley and her family have to move to a totally new place, emotions literally spiral out of control, conflicting on how to proceed on this new journey in Riley's life.
As soon as I saw the first trailer for "Inside Out," once the Pixar logo popped up, I was sold. Then,as the trailer proceeded, presenting this completely original idea, Amy Poehler's name popped up, and my excitement levels rose. As a huge fan of Poehler's work, particularly on "Parks and Recreation," having her on board is truly a gift. For true lack of a better word, Poehler delivers a completely joyful performance. You can just hear how much fun she has with the role. There really is no better person to voice this part.
Then there's Phyllis Smith. I didn't watch "The Office," so I was only familiar with her work in "Bad Teacher." Boy, does she steal this movie. Her dry humor and perfect voice inflection make Sadness quite enjoyable. Whoever thought you could say that in a sentence? Perhaps she will be the first person to receive an Academy Award nomination for voiceover work? It should have been Ellen, but Smith's performance would do.
I don't know what it is about Disney movies these days, but I just can't help but get emotional. Perhaps it's the fact that I am a father, that I am overly emotional, or a mixture of both. In a movie all about emotions, how can you not cry, or at least get a little teary? I think it hit home for me even more because the film is about a young girl growing up, and it made me think of what it will be like for my daughter as she grows older.
I have heard comments about how the film's concept is really more for adults, while children can just enjoy the animation. While the film's plot is certainly more complex than other Pixar films, I have to say there is plenty for children of all ages to enjoy in this film. It is such a fantastic story with fun characters and great humor that everyone can enjoy.
This year, we have a real treat in having TWO Disney/Pixar films. November will see the release of "The Good Dinosaur," a film that was originally supposed to come out a few years back, but there were directorial problems that caused it to be pushed back. Normally, that is not a good sign for a film, but when it comes to Disney/Pixar, I have no concerns; however, it is highly doubtful that it will be better than "Inside Out."