I spent the pre-lunch hours of my Father’s Day delightfully with my daughter Elisabeth taking in the stark emotions of Joy and Sadness and the many shades in between in the full Regal Cinemas theater for matinée showing of the 15th Pixar picture from Disney.
And as the four of us sat there, her boyfriend George Three and my dear wife Karen included in that crowd of kids and parents and grandparents of all ages, we laughed and sighed and maybe even sat on the edge of our seats in worry. Tears? Not for me — and I Elisabeth, Karen and I went through a whole package of Kleenex three weepers in a row at Toy Story 3 — but some people may have been moved to leakage at the more more emotional parts.
The directing and writing team of Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have come up with a solid tale, and interesting story that very well straddles the sensibilities of the adult world and children’s parameters of know-how.
The animation is beautifully Disney Pixar from the get-go, too, and the voice acting of Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyliss Smith as Sadness, Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust and Bill Hader as Fear is perfect for all the scenarios these five bodies put in emotions go through.
The premise is quite smart. These characters work in Headquarters, inside the brain of 11-year-old Riley, voiced by Kaitlyn Dias. Joy tries to push most of Riley’s buttons, but that gets more difficult when Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Kyle McLaughlin) take their only child out of a happy home, school and hockey league in Minnesota and move to San Francisco.
Life becomes way more difficult, and the inner workings of emotional conflict is demonstrated in ways that should instruct the young ‘uns in the crowd in many ways about what’s going on in their head and hearts. It’s carried out in a story that’s appealing and intellectually stimulating enough for the grown-ups, too.
Joy and Sadness learn about how they relate on a journey through Riley’s difficulties in her new home, and the 94-minute feature is an entertaining and revealing look inside everybody’s head. Their frustrations and breakthroughs deal with imagination, dreams, abstract thought, imaginary friends and memory dumps. Yes, it’s a lot like real life.
It falls short of Toy Story 3 and Up on my Pixar all-star list, only because parts of it remind me of the former and other parts of it bring to mind the latter. Yet Inside Out is a definite winner on the first official day of summer 2015.
Pixar also provided a sweet short before the film that’s worth passing up the popcorn line for, too, an animated song-story about an Hawaiian volcano who sings a longing and lonely love song every day until it finally reaches the right ears.
What’s your favorite Pixar film, and why? Do you want a lesson with your animation, or just a good story, and why? Do you think it’s a good idea to point out early and often to your kids how their feelings fit in with each other, and why?