It’s OK when Pixar plays head games, Inside Out proves



Please do go with your kids to see Inside Out.

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 matinΓ©e showing of the 15th Pixar picture from Disney.

She’s 25.

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?

48 thoughts on “It’s OK when Pixar plays head games, Inside Out proves

  1. This might be the best-reviewed movie of the year. Universal praise. My Bride when with my 8-year old and they thought it was magnificent. I’m trying to convince my 13-year old to go with me but she’s at that “too-cool” stage. I can’t go alone. That’d look weird!


    • If you can talk your 13-year-old into going with you — great photo with her at the gallery, by the way, she’s growing into quite the beauty! — she’ll love you for it, Mark.


  2. Pingback: Blog Safari 6/23/2015 | Riley Central

  3. Yes, my husband took the kids to see this one on Friday while I was working. My daughter (8) and husband loved it, son (12) thought it was pretty good. All of these movies tend to incorporate some sort of lesson into them and usually the lesson is on that’s pretty obvious and learned in other ways. I think it’s the clever delivery of the message that hooks the viewers.


  4. I appreciate this review. I have veered off of enjoying any new kids’ films and tend to ignore them. I say I’ve outgrown them, only I do have a few favourites and Toy Story and Up are on my short list. So if you like those I figure your review has much merit! That list also has on it Aladdin mostly for Robin Williams’ maniacal banter.


  5. We do aim to see this film. It may rain a considerable amount of our vacation, so it may well be then. In terms of favorite Pixar films, it’s hard to choose a favorite. I love Up and WallE, A Bug’s Life, and Ratatouille, but I think I may well like the shorts the most. For the Birds is hysterical. That dog from Up tho, he kills me. I crack up every time we meet him again. πŸ™‚ “I love you. I know I only just met you, but I love you because I’m a dog,” or whatever. Gah, so funny!


    • Yes, so much good about Pixar’s animal world, Joey. The preview included a whole movie coming out soon about animals getting along in a human-race type situation. A fox cititizen and hare police person in particular. It had me! πŸ™‚


  6. i have heard nothing but raves for this movie and i can’t wait to see it. my fav, (so far), has been up, always makes me weep. i absolutely think it’s a good things to validate kids’ feelings and to teach them it’s okay to have them from a very young age – bravo to pixar for this!


  7. Sounds like a worthwhile movie Mark. Thank you so much for bringing us this review. i have a friend (Penny) with a slew of kids – I’ll pass this along to her. πŸ™‚


    • Penny and her slew of kids can have a lot to talk about when they get home from this one, Paul! It’s a good teaching launch point. You and I in fact talked about how interesting the premise this movie held when I previewed it a year or so ago when I also was writing for that other site.


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