Inside Out tells the story of Riley, whose uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and schools.
The story may seem a little complicated or confusing for younger viewers but the way Pixar takes us through the story is entertaining for both adults and children. It’s complex as well as mature. It’s a film that both children and adults will enjoy, as Pixar films are. The story is an emotional one and one that has deep underlying themes that the older will be able to dissect further. And there’s an attractive contrast of colours in the vein of “Up” that show the vibrancy of the different emotions.
With the majority of the film set within the mind of an eleven year old girl, the filmmakers have kept in mind that the brain is something that’s difficult to fully comprehend, especially for those of a younger audience, that deals with the subconscious, abstract thought, memory, and emotion that was given a physical form to help portray itself clearly to the audience. Inside Out presents the human mind that runs like a machine and as stated earlier, gives a defining personality to each emotion.
This becomes clear when we see that Riley’s emotions are having a hard time figuring out the best reaction on how to deal with the move. Joy, like her name, would like for Riley to stay happy but as we know in life, Sadness always has some sort of effect in our lives and it starts to have the effect of changing past memories from happy to sad. This causes a rift between Joy and Sadness, a fight breaking out that sends them into long term memory. The remaining emotions of Anger, Disgust, and Fear are left to essentially run Riley, which doesn’t turn out well. As Joy and Sadness attempt to get back to “head”quarters, Riley starts to shut herself out and considers even running away.
The casting of Amy Pohler as Sadness and Phyllis Smith as Sadness work really well together, using their comedic prowess to help essentially tell a difficult story well. Riley’s story in this film talks about a difficult part of childhood where the world is a much bigger place than originally thought and each of emotions represented as characters in this film show her reactions to that. Fear about what could happen, disgust when we don’t understand, anger when things don’t go the way we thought, sadness at our lowest, and finally joy when we overcome all these elements to find that we can still progress into a brighter future.