Review: Inside Out


Director:Pete Docter

Cast:Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Lewis Black

Running Time:94 Minutes


With a fully realized world, a stellar voice cast and an abundance of heart, Pixar may have delivered its best movie yet with Inside Out.

The film is a bold leap forward for the studio, explicitly examining the psychology of its audience in an incredibly creative way. In this world, there are five main emotions working in your brain "“ Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear "“ and their prodding makes your memories and, in turn, crafts your personality.

Amy Poehler voices Joy, the most dominant emotion inside 12-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), whose life is upended when her family moves with her mom and dad from rural Minnesota to the dodgy side of San Francisco. But between puberty and the move, Sadness (The Office's Phyllis Smith) has started to take over.

It's a simple story, but as Pixar has proven time and again, it's used as a springboard for an abundance of creative ideas. Navigating the vast wilderness of the mind, Joy and Sadness run into a clean-up crew that eliminates some knowledge (like piano lessons) and keeps some others (like annoying commercial jingles). They also sneak into the studio responsible for dreams (like Something's Chasing Me! and I'm Flying).

Pixar has gained a reputation for forcing its audience into the fetal position, especially after its three-peat of WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3. But the creators always have the best of intentions, and all the tears you might shed come from real places, even if they're unlikely. Indeed, some of the strongest impulses to weep openly will come from Bing Bong, Riley's long-forgotten imaginary friend voiced by Richard Kind.

But I don't want to sell Inside Out short. To be sure, it's often very funny, especially given the comic talents of Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Bill Hader (Fear) and Lewis Black (Anger). The few trips inside the minds of the other characters prove just how many different directions they could have taken this thing.

There's beauty and care in every scene of this remarkable film. It's early yet, but the rest of 2015 is going to have a difficult time keeping up with the craft and emotion of Pixar's latest masterpiece.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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