Inside Out: Pixar’s marvelous mindgame

Despite a few missteps – the back-to-back Planes (2013) and Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014) come to mind – Pixar Animation has established a tremendous reputation of entertainment for all ages, with countless accolades and considerable box-office to show for it – all of it deserved.

With its 15 th feature, Inside Out, the wizards at Pixar are operating close to peak form. This is a film that appeals to the child in all of us, and is therefore ideal for all ages. Like the best Pixar productions, Inside Out offers enough colorful charm to please the children, and subtle sophistication to appeal to grown-ups. That’s one of the great things about Pixar’s best movies: There’s more to about Pixar’s best movies: There’s more to them than meets the eye.

Kaitlyn Dias provides the voice for the principal (human) character, Riley Anderson, a youngster who has recently moved to San Francisco with her parents (warmly voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan). For many children, a move can be traumatic, and that’s what Inside Out is all about.

Riley’s five primary emotions – Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith), Feat (voiced by Bill Hader), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling) and Anger (voiced, hilariously, by Lewis Black) – come to the fore as they provide her reactions to the move, which become more erratic when Joy and Sadness are accidentally whisked away from control and must struggle to find their way back to Riley’s consciousness before Fear, Disgust and Anger make things worse.

Rest assured, the film isn’t nearly as complicated as that summation.

The star-studded voice-over cast also includes Muppet masters Frank Oz and Dave Goelz, Laraine Newman, Rashida Jones, Paula Poundstone, Flea, Pixar perennial John Ratzenberger, and Richard Kind, who bids fair to steal the show as Riley’s near-forgotten imaginary friend “Bing Bong.” (The sequence where Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong attempt to awaken a sleeping Riley by infiltrating her dreams is perhaps the film’s most inspired moment of sheer hilarity.)

In a sense, Inside Out could be perceived as a study of an emotional breakdown, which the filmmakers wisely refrain from emphasizing, opting instead to concentrate on the story’s humor and sweetness, and the ingenuity of the special effects – all of which are in great supply. Yet it doesn’t completely ignore the other implications, which lends an extra layer to the film’s emotional core. The combination of emotional resonance and visual razzle-dazzle is well nigh impossible to ignore, to say nothing of irresistible.