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Movie Night – 'Inside Out' brings originality (June 24, 2015 issue)

Have you ever wondered what goes on in someone’s mind, what makes them say the things they say and do the things they do? “Inside Out” has all of the answers. The new animated film from Pixar goes inside the mind of a young girl to illuminate her swirling and conflicting emotions. As you can imagine, it’s quite an adventure.
Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) is an eleven-year-old girl living in Minnesota. She loves her home, her friends, her family, and ice hockey. Her world is torn apart when her family moves to San Francisco so her dad can start a new business. Riley, like every other human being on the planet, has many emotions that she sometimes fights to control and moving from her home activates all of her emotions.
Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) take center stage inside Riley’s mind. In the control center of her mind Joy usually runs control panel. She makes certain that every day is filled with as much happiness as possible. Joy also fights each day to ensure that Riley’s memories are filled with happiness rather than the other emotions and, when necessary, Joy pulls happy memories from Riley’s long-term memory to remind her of happy times.
Riley’s mind contains five core memories. These memories are never forgotten and forge Riley’s personality. Essentially, they are what make Riley, Riley. These core memories created five corresponding islands in Riley’s mind: Goofball Island, Family Island, Friend Island, Honest Island, and Hockey Island. The core memories are essential to Riley’s personality and any disruption of these core memories may change Riley forever.
The emotions work hard to help Riley assimilate in San Francisco after the cross-country move. For the most part, Riley is feeling positive about the move. Until Sadness makes her presence felt. Sadness changes some of Riley’s memories from happiness to despair. Sadness also causes herself and Joy to become lost with Riley’s five core memories in the jungle of long-term memory. Joy and Sadness must find their way back to the control room and put the core memories back where they belong before the Riley that they know, that they helped to create, is gone forever.
“Inside Out” is enormously imaginative and creative. The filmmakers consulted with neuroscientists to make sure that the film maintained a level of authenticity when it comes to the human brain and the emotions that make each and every person endlessly complicated. The complexity of the mind is portrayed in such a way that the movie is (for the most part) accurate and yet easy to understand and entertaining. The sheer ingenuity of the movie makes it worth seeing.
Joy and Sadness take center stage for most of the movie. Amy Poehler is very good as the voice of Joy. She’s always peppy and positive and great for the role of Joy. But the best voice acting of the movie goes to Phyllis Smith for her portrayal of Sadness. She is spot-on perfect and almost makes you believe that all hope is lost and giving up is the only option.
By the end of the movie you will come to realize that Joy and Sadness sometimes go hand-in-hand and that you need all of your emotions working together, that sometimes Fear is as important as Anger. All emotions have their place and time.
While it’s not as funny as most animated films, “Inside Out” deserves a ton of credit for originality. A scene at the dinner table that goes inside the mind of Riley and both of her parents is worth the price of admission.
Grade: B+
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.