Skip to main content

Murray Journal

Dan's Review: Pixar's "Inside Out" an emotional triumph

Jun 18, 2015 10:32PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Inside Out - © 2015 - Disney/Pixar

Inside Out (Pixar/Disney)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.

Starring (voices of) Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind.

Written by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley and Ronnie del Carmen.

Directed by Pete Docter.



It’s good to see Pixar back in the imagination game. For a while, it seemed like they were content to churn out sequels like Cars II and Monsters University, and it’s been almost 2 years since they’ve produced anything. All that changes with this weekend’s release of Inside Out.

The movie’s concept is reminiscent of a 1990s Fox Television sitcom called Herman’s Head, in which competing emotions vie to control the brain of a self-centered guy in New York. In Pixar’s story, the brain belongs to an 11-year-old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). Things are going well for well-grounded girl until her dad (Kyle McLachlan) takes on a new job, relocating Riley and her mother (Diane Lane) from Minnesota to San Francisco. Upon arrival, Riley goes through all the difficulties one would expect from such a drastic change.

Throughout Riley’s ordeal, the emotions in her head try to stabilize the girl, but things go south when Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) are sucked out the “brain central” control room and into the main memory storage facility. Without Joy and Sadness, the other emotions take poor Riley on a rollercoaster of outbursts and bad decisions. Fear (Bill Hader) causes all kinds of panic; Disgust (Mindy Kaling) produces several inappropriate reactions; Anger (Lewis Black) yields all sorts of furious responses. Meanwhile, Joy and Sadness try to find their way back with the help of Riley’s imaginary friend Bing-Bong (Richard Kind) who has been left to wander the girl’s psyche since toddler-hood. As Riley’s breakdown continues, several “islands” of emotional stability begin to crumble, putting Joy and Sadness at risk for falling into a “memory dump” from which there is no return. For all her good intentions, Joy mistakenly tries to manipulate Sadness into obscurity as they try to regain control of Riley’s brain before she makes major error and runs away.

In the end, Joy is forced to accept the necessity of Sadness and make a few sacrifices for the sake of Riley’s mental health.

Inside Out is a real treat; a movie that can be enjoyed and understood by the smallest children and all adults. Its appeal is universal, taking the audience to a place where our deepest thoughts can be comprehended and appreciated.

The Pixar team really outdid themselves by creating a visual animated masterpiece with another great voice cast. I can’t give enough props to Pixar for casting Phyllis Smith in the role of Sadness. The actress who frumped her way around NBC’s The Office provides the heart and soul of the movie with her performance of the misunderstood emotion.

Inside Out could be the best film you see all year. I recommend taking all your emotions (and your family) along when you see it. You might shed a few tears of joy and sadness together along the way.