INSIDE OUT (9 out of 10) – Directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen Written by Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen. Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan; rated PG for "mild thematic elements and some action"; in wide release June 19, 2015; running time: 94 minutes.
Inside Out is going to make you feel all of the emotions. Because that's basically what it's all about. Inside 11-year old Riley's head live Joy (Pohler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Disgust (Kaling) and Anger (a perfectly-cast Lewis Black). From their headquarters they monitor Riley's mood, memories, and thoughts, each with their own job. Anger is concerned about things being fair, Fear keeps Riley safe, Joy makes her happy, Disgust keeps her from getting poisoned (physically and socially!) and Sadness? Well, therein lies the rub-- no one quite knows what Sadness does.
But when Riley moves from Minnesota to San Francisco and finds her life turned upside down, a mishap in HQ send Joy and Sadness out into Riley's long term memory with no easy way to get back. To return, they have to run through Riley's imagination, dreams, and the other various operating centers of her brain. It's a beautiful reflection on the troubles of growing up, the purpose of sadness, and so much more.
The only complaint for this movie is it almost seems too adult for a kids movie. This is incredibly deep and complex material, and a lot of it is sure to go over kids' heads, but resonate with most of the rest of us. While older kids, especially those quickly approaching the complex transition from childhood to pre--teen to adolescence, will do well with this, some younger kids may get both bored and even scared at a few parts. But kids can still enjoy the gorgeous animation and the emotional heart of the film, which leads us to its very best part:
Bing Bong, Riley's forgotten imaginary friend, played perfectly here by Richard Kind, is awesome. He's funny, he's wise in some ways, and he's going to make you cry. At least when he cries, his tears are candy!
This is a return to form for the folks at Pixar, and a new classic.
As if that wasn't enough, the film is preceeded by the animated short Lava, the story of an anthropomorphic volcano who sings a Hawaiian sounding song about how all the other creatures have someone to be with, so he asks the earth to give him "someone to lava." Told entirely in song, it is beautiful, touching, and even better than the film that follows. It is also bound to get stuck in your head. As with all Pixar work, keep your eyes peeled for callbacks and characters from other films in this.
9 out of 10