Filmmakers began with 25 different emotions including Surprise, Pride, and Trust then finalized the film with Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness.
Kaitlyn Dias voices Riley while Kyle MacLachlan (TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Twin Peaks) voices the Dad and Diane Lane (Perfect Storm, Under the Tuscan Sun) voices the Mom. Filmmakers wisely keep the plot focus on Riley and keep the parents’ professional careers and related elements to a minimum though audiences get some entertaining peeks inside the parents’ heads and more.
Dias does well in a key role that requires careful balance as viewers see the unique cause-effect relationship between the five core emotions inside Riley’s head and her proceeding result/action. This special relationship never stales and even expands during a mainly comedic sequence during the ending credits.
Each emotion has a unique graphic design and the voice performances are top-notch. The yellow colored Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler (previously on TV’s Parks & Recreation, SNL), resembles a star shape while her opposite emotion Sadness, voiced by Phyllis Smith (previously on TV’s The Office) has a blue teardrop appearance.
The always kinetic Lewis Black (previously on TV’s The Daily Show) resembles a brick shape as the fiery red Anger and delivers some of the most memorable comedic dialogue.
Bill Hader (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Monsters University (as the Slug), previously on “SNL”) voices the purple colored fear, which looks like a raw nerve and Mindy Kaling (Wreck-It Ralph, TV’s The Mindy Project) voices the green colored Disgust, which resembles broccoli.
Richard Kind (TV’s Sin City, A Bug’s Life) has an amazing performance as Bing Bong who Joy and Sadness encounter on their adventures. His representation of a well-recognized childhood element warms the heart and progresses the plot extremely well.
Other performances include a pair of guards, voiced by Frank Oz and Dave Goelz, who have two short, but memorable sequences. Oz and Goelz were frequent collaborators on “The Muppet Show” and their first scene echoes Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s on First?” comedy routine.
Stalwart Pixar Animation Studios voice actor John Ratzenberger (previously on TV’s Cheers) also makes his standard appearance as a character near the end of this film.
Near the beginning of the film, audiences have Joy as their tour guide to learn about the film’s logistics. Emotions interact with a main console and the memory “marbles” to make Riley feel. At the same time, filmmakers convey that Joy is the main manager of these emotions – a great storytelling technique seen repeatedly in Disney/Pixar films.
The intuitive color designs factor into these object interactions and more. The design crew also produces some amazing work including an “abstract art” sequence. Other visual indicators include the newspaper that Anger frequently reads; focus changes in the camera lens during certain emotional experiences; and, if viewing closely, the video visuals within the memory “marbles”.
Adult audiences will particularly enjoy some choice references (e.g. famous dialogue from the film Chinatown when characters are near a cloud building).
Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up) and Ronaldo Del Carmen co-direct this amazing 94-minute film. They also co-write the film with Meg LeFauve who is currently working on the upcoming Captain Marvel and Josh Cooley who is currently working on the upcoming Toy Story 4.
Word choice and actor performance style are the key plot adjustments here. The core plot works well and contains the familiar intro-crisis-climax/solution arch and makes this uniquely personal journey worthwhile.
Every crew member contributes to the high-level entertainment on this project. “Dedicated to our children. Don’t grow up. Ever.” is a special message from the crew in the ending credits. They definitely represent Pixar’s overlapping staff strategy (and location use (see Big Hero 6)) where the collaboration and creativity shine through to the audience.
The musical score by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino features impressive piano pieces that hit the right tone, especially at the beginning of this film, his fifth for Pixar.
Inside Out comes highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) and rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action. The cast and crew succeed in creating an amazing film that demonstrates how difficult it is to grow up in a way that connects with audiences on a very deep, personal level.
Audiences can also enjoy the short film Lava before this feature film, Disney/Pixar’s fifteenth. Also showing in 3D and IMAX 3D theaters.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler