Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old hockey-loving Midwestern girl, and her family move to San Francisco, and Riley’s world is completely upended. Joy (Amy Poehler), Riley’s feelings, try to assist her through this difficult, life-altering experience. But Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is thrust into the spotlight by the stress of moving. When Joy and Sadness unintentionally disappear into Riley’s subconscious, just Anger, Fear, and Disgust are left in Headquarters.
- Rating: PG (Some Action|Mild Thematic Elements)
- Genre: Kids & family, Comedy, Fantasy, Animation
- Original Language: English
- Director: Pete Docter
- Producer: Jonas Rivera
- Writer: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
- Release Date (Theaters): Jun 19, 2015 Wide
- Release Date (Streaming): Nov 3, 2015
- Box Office (Gross USA): $2.0M
- Runtime: 1h 35m
- Distributor: Walt Disney
- Production Co: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
- Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos, Datasat
- View the collection: Pixar
The plot begins when Riley arrives at her new school on the first day of fifth grade and flashes back to a memory that is initially color-coded as “joyful,” but is later reclassified as “sad” after Sadness touches it and makes Riley cry in front of her classmates. Joy and Sadness are the two main emotions in the movie, and Sadness has already accomplished this once. This makes sense when you consider how these two emotions are combined by nostalgia, which is what Riley is mostly experiencing as she reminisces about her Minnesotan background. Riley’s “core memories” are mistakenly vacuumed up with Joy and Sadness and spit out into the larger universe of Riley’s emotional innards during a struggle between the two emotions. The
A Pixar film is always a visual feast, but this might be the richest ever, with two contrasting worlds with wholly different looks. The outer world is photorealistic and desaturated; the inner world candy-colored and cartoony. All of Docter’s films (he also wrote and directed Monsters, Inc. as well as Up) have some kind of whimsical, exotic world set alongside the ordinary world, but never before have both worlds, and the relationship between them, been developed to such an extent.
We first meet Riley as a newborn, and the rendering of her perfect little newborn face, with blinking eyes and moist little mouth, is a revelation; she’s the most alive-looking computer-animated character I’ve ever seen. (How far we’ve come from the ghastly baby of “Tin Toy,” or even Jack-Jack in The Incredibles.) When she forms her first nascent memory — one doubtless long since lost down the memory dump — there’s a lovely effect of swirling color and motion similar to Ratatouille’s efforts to visualize taste.
Joy is a literal bundle of energy, her outline fuzzy with tiny bubbles of light percolating around her and streaming in her wake. The other emotions are also composed of packets of energy; Not only does Anger have a slow-boil surface, the air above his head ripples with heat before his head bursts into flame. Wiry Fear looks like a jangling nerve ending, and Disgust vaguely resembles the broccoli she reacts so strongly to.
Whimsy, sentiment, nostalgia, melancholy and silliness come together in a particular way in Docter’s films. Inside Out has some of the silliest conceits in any Pixar film, particularly at the climax, but also some of the most haunting melancholy. Riley’s crisis comes to a head in moments of sharp moral clarity and overwhelming emotional power. The scenes around the memory dump, where lovely, once-precious memories pile up, faded, forgotten, crumbling to dust, have a heartbreaking existential force going beyond even the incinerator scene in Toy Story 3.