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“Inside Out” – a joyous, clever, astonishing journey into the brain

Inside Out is one of the most inventive and captivating films yet to come from Pixar. The story is fresh, the voicing marvelous, and the animation visually superb.

The creators of Up and WALL-E bring you the story of 11-year old Riley, a happy-go-lucky girl from the Midwest, who has to deal with the upheaval of moving to a new city and a new school. But the story is rather about the magical world that exists inside Riley’s head and how she deals with these new challenges on an emotional level.

Contained in Riley’s brain are five characters, representing the universal emotions of every person. Joy (Amy Poehler) is the leader of the group that also includes the dejected Sadness (Phyllis Smith), the explosive Anger (Lewis Black), the bumbling Fear (Bill Hader), and the snooty Disgust (Mindy Kaling).

The sprightly Joy manages to ensure that Riley has a mostly happy life. Beautiful golden globes representing Riley’s memories are sucked up by tubes, to be filed away at the end of each day. But when the eternally blue, chubby Sadness accidentally touches one of Riley’s core memories, forever changing it into a negative one, Joy is set on a journey that takes her out of the control room and into the massive and treacherous library that stores all of Riley’s memories.

Sadness is accidentally thrown along for the ride and the duo of opposites have to traverse the complex world of the Imagination, the Subconscious, Abstract thinking, Long term memory and The Train of Thought (a literal locomotive which only runs while Riley is awake), and make sure that Riley’s personality and happiness are preserved. Along the way, Joy and Sadness learn more about one another and how they can work together.

But with Joy and Sadness gone, only Anger, Fear, and Disgust remain to control Riley’s emotions, creating a sullen, resentful and depressed girl, who can no longer find happiness in her core memories of family, hockey, and friendship.

Inside Out is an animated film like no other: it’s as colourful and mind-blowing as Lewis Caroll’s Wonderland. As Joy wanders through the corridors and along the shelves of memories, she sees two cleaners sucking up random and unnecessary memories, like Riley’s piano lessons that she abandoned years ago, leaving only “Chopsticks” behind. They also sneakily insert a TV commercial jingle on loop (so that’s where that irritating song that bizarrely gets stuck in your head comes from!).

There is so much fine detail in the film, that it almost needs a second watching to take it all in. It teaches that joy can come through sadness and that all emotions are necessary to create a rounded person. Inside Out reveals to children the astonishing world that is the mind, and will leave everyone enchanted with warm, fuzzy feelings.

Director: Pete Doctor

Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Kaitlyn Dias

Rating: 4½ out 5

South African release date: 19 February 2015.

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