Whew, ok, now that I got that out of the way, let's dive in...
Who are you? I know, quite a philosophical question to be hitting you with considering this is a cartoon movie about the thoughts inside our head. But Inside Out seeks to answer that question by revealing how you grew to become the person that you are today. It all starts with memories. From the moment you are born you start forming memories. Some will last only moments and will be forgotten forever. Others will become cornerstones in your personality and help to shape who you are; those are the Core Memories. These Core Memories can be filled with Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and even Sadness, and they are what you rely on to remember what it is that is most important to you. In a sense, they are what make you, you. Now what happens if all those memories are lost?
Meet Riley, a particularly Joyful eleven year old girl with loving parents and a childhood that most would envy in beautiful Minnesota. She is the star of her hockey team, has wonderful friends, and loves her school. But Inside Out turns her world upside down when Riley's family suddenly uproots to San Francisco and everything changes. We experience the movie through the Emotions that live inside of Riley's head. Joy, Disgust, Fear, Anger, and Sadness. Joy runs the show, glowingly brought to life by Amy Poehler, and does everything in her power to make sure Riley is nothing but a bright little ray of sunshine. The rest of the Emotions fight to keep Riley grounded; Fear keeps her safe, Disgust makes sure she doesn't eat anything poisonous like broccoli, Anger gives her courage, and Sadness...well Sadness mostly just gets in the way. As Joy does her best to keep everything in balance, mostly by keeping Sadness out of Riley's life, Riley's Core Memories are lost and everything falls out of place.
From here we follow Joy and Sadness on an epic journey through the core of Riley's being in order to restore the memories that Riley needs to be herself. It is absolutely astonishing how Pixar so logically creates a physical world that makes us who we are. An endless abyss of shelves where our memories are stored, islands that reflect the most prominent aspects of our personalities, a haunting pit where memories go when they are never to be thought of again, and of course the prison of our sub-conscious full of our deepest fears and anxieties. It is this physical depiction of all the things that make us tick that ensures Inside Out will speak to everyone on some level or another. It doesn't matter that Riley is an eleven year old girl because we all have our Core Memories, we all have our fears, our dreams, our friendships, the things that make us so wonderful. Suffice to say that Pixar has truly achieved the impossible in making a movie that is for everyone, because it is simply about what makes us human, and nothing else.
Once again Pixar sets the standard for animation and voice acting. The world of Riley's brain is incredibly gorgeous and the characters are instantly as beloved as Woody and Nemo. Michael Giacchino is right at home with another score that I'm sure will be echoing down the streets of Disneyland in no time. It is such an encouraging return to form for a studio that we know is capable of creating some of the most touching films of our generation.
The most incredible thing about Inside Out is that it caused me to reflect. On my way home I found myself wondering what my Core Memories might be. Perhaps sitting on the carpet of my childhood home playing floor hockey with my dad, or listening to my mom read The Boxcar Children to me before bed for the millionth time. Or maybe the inside joke that only my best friend and I share (the apple juice box). This movie will get you thinking like nothing else in recent years. Pixar has created something deeply moving with Inside Out that I will not soon forget; perhaps it will become another one of my Core Memories.
My Rating: A