Emotional rescue theme of latest Pixar hit

By Movie Man | Published Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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For a long time, the genius animators at Pixar seemed to never miss. It looked like they would produce an endless series of exceptional movies.

However, a few years back, the winning streak ended for the studio. But it has righted the ship with “Inside Out.”


A young girl, Riley, lives a happy life, evidenced by the unseen emotions that control her – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).

But a move from Minnesota throws Riley’s existence into a tizzy. The emotions battle in trying to help her navigate this new part of her life. When Riley’s memories become screwed up, Joy and Sadness head into the deep brain to try and make things right – leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear to try and keep Riley afloat in her new surroundings.

The effervescent Joy and mopey Sadness find the going tough in the subconscious until they run into Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend. Meanwhile, Anger, Disgust and Fear are failing miserably.

But the determined Joy discovers that Sadness has more value than any of the emotions ever imagined. And the day is saved.

What works

Boy, the voice work in “Inside Out” is fantastic. While Poehler, Hader and Smith are memorable, Black steals the show. Anger gets mad pretty easily, and he’s always PO’d about something. When he’s full-tilt, Anger’s head literally burns with flames. Black’s line readings are flat-out hilarious.

Once again, Pixar has created a movie that requires multiple viewings. This film is deep and one of those that’s fine for kids – if maybe a little boring early on – and super for adults.

It’s wonderfully colorful and inventive with plenty of quick-hitting jokes for grown-ups. And the scenes over the end credits with the same five emotions being seen in other people and even animals are a hoot.

Sensitive folks (like the Movie Man) will especially be touched by a couple of sequences. The ending is a powerhouse when Sadness finally does her thing. That second one? …


Joy and Bing Bong are trapped in the mental Pit of Despair from which there is no escape. Except that Riley and Bing Bong, an imaginary friend from years before, had built a “rocket ship” made from a red wagon and brooms. That memory has been discarded until Joy finds it buried in the pit. With Bing Bong, Joy tries and tries but fails to fly the contraption out of the pit.

Bing Bong knows what must be done. He bails out, mid-flight, allowing Joy to escape. She looks down at him as the imaginary childhood memory finally fades away forever. You probably never thought you’d tear up at a goofy character named Bing Bong.


While it has lots of laughs, this isn’t a joke-heavy movie. And the children in the crowd with the Movie Man weren’t knocked out by it. It’s especially slow early, for kids’ attention spans.

The story is actually a little dense, and that might put off some viewers. (Another reason some kids got restless.)

Disgust – and to a lesser degree, Fear – get shorter shrift than the other emotions, which is too bad because Hader is funny.


There’s some emotional wallop to “Inside Out,” which will surprise a lot of parents. Your sensitive child might weep (with you). The PG is very mild; it’s mainly for a creepy clown.


“Inside Out” is good for young and old – hard to complain about that. It’s a borderline 8 but just took a little too long to find its momentum to merit that elite number.


The Movie Man will subject himself to “Ted 2.”

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