Inside Out

Meet Riley. She’s an 11-year-old single child about to turn 12, uprooted from her family’s home in Minnesota for a move to San Francisco. Leaving behind her closest friends, familiar school and beloved sport of hockey, Riley experiences all the range of emotions, feelings and past memories one associates with a life that’s turned upside down. Those core feelings of emotions, coupled with her long and short-range memories, are the issues Riley must acknowledge, deal with and, ultimately, find coping mechanisms for. It’s there, in Riley’s head, where viewers find themselves in this captivating, funny and powerful film that touches every moviegoers’ emotional spirit — regardless of age.

Pixar, the studio that set the film industry’s high-bar for quality animation and rekindled our fascination with toys (“Toy Story” trilogy), taken us behind the scenes of working monsters (“Monsters, Inc.”) and life at sea (“Finding Nemo”), now exceeds even its highest standards.

This exceptional and thought-provoking film gives us more than just endless laughs with an astute plotline. It gives us much, much more. Behind Riley’s thoughts and actions we find a brilliant script delivered perfectly by an extraordinary ensemble of loveable voices.

As the “core feelings” inside Riley’s head, Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) take turns showing us why humans think and act the way we do. It’s the stream of consciousness, train of thought and how our core feelings and memories interact that “Inside Out” pries and probes diligently — elevating this movie from just a compilation of one-liners into a mind-blowing study on human nature.

Director Pete Doctor has already provided two of the best Pixar films (“Monsters, Inc.” and “Up”) from the studio. Now, with “Inside Out,” he’s easily achieved Pixar’s most stunning, cogent production to date.

The importance of Inside Out is the message it sends to all of us about feelings. For children, it implores them to discuss their feelings openly, understanding the connection between emotions and memories. And for adults, it underscores the notion that all feelings are important to acknowledge and express.  That if we allow ourselves to express our feelings, emotions can work together to either hold us back in life, or move us forward in a positive direction. 

Multicolored emotions can exist and do — but may also be for our own good. After all, we have the power to look back at memories of the past through certain lenses that affect, or change, our present moods.

“Inside Out” succeeds because it elevates the Pixar game in each of the major categories: appeal, creativity and relevance. This film’s humor and plot make it enjoyable and worth seeing for everyone. 

The industry-leading computer-generated animation continues, but Pixar now dominates all other competitors--including its own Academy Award-winning films — with this masterpiece on the human mind. Never has the human consciousness been as exposed and explained in such lucid and understandable ways for all ages.

Film-goers will leave the theater armed with a better understanding of how and why we feel and react the way we do. 

This movie’s most satisfying trait is that as it takes viewers inside someone else’s head, we see that others actually think like us. That empathy provides an opportunity for one’s emotional feelings, trains of thought, and memories on the inside to be shared with others on the outside—helping everyone to cope with that thing called Life.  And that alone is worth the price of admission to see one of 2015’s best films.

Grade: A+


(Editor’s Note: Patrick King is a resident of Oro Valley and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at  You may email him at

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