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You just have to go see this movie. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s that good.
Inside Out tells the story of a young girl’s brain. Her name is Riley, and most of the movie takes place when she is eleven years old. There are five emotions inside of Riley’s brain controlling her moods. They could not have been cast more perfectly.
Joy is voiced by Amy Poehler. She actually helped rewrite her part so that Joy could be happy without being annoying (you know exactly the kind of person I’m talking about). She pulls it off beautifully.
Disgust is the hilarious Mindy Kaling, largely reprising her role from “The Office” (that is in no way a complaint or a dig – she’s perfect). Her “Office” co-star Phyllis Smith is the very embodiment of Sadness. She’s the vocal equivalent of a world without serotonin or sunlight.
Bill Hader is hilariously neurotic and panicky as Fear. And Lewis Black voices the emotion he was born to play, Anger.
There’s also some touching voice work by Richard Kind. And listen closely for John Ratzenberger towards the end – he’s been in every Pixar movie ever made.
Everyone inside of Riley’s brain comes together to make her who she is. Sitting next to my own eleven-year-old daughter, I couldn’t help but get choked up many, many times at what she must be going through. (And, well, she made fun of me after the movie for how much I cried; thanks, Disgust.)
Pixar has a great track record, but I haven’t loved every one of their movies. One of the things that separates an OK Pixar movie from a masterpiece in my mind is how much I care about the characters. I cared about Riley. I cared deeply. I remembered being Riley.
But just because this movie is a tearjerker doesn’t mean it isn’t also hilarious. Pixar being Pixar, there are even a couple of sly gay/San Francisco jokes and a reference to Burning Man. (Don’t worry, unless you’re letting your small children watch shows like The Daily Show and Family Guy, the more “adult” jokes will be miles over their heads.)
The other thing that makes a great Pixar movie is how many levels it has. The ones I didn’t care so much for really seemed to appeal just to kids (Cars comes to mind immediately). But Inside Out can be enjoyed fully by a five-year-old loving the physical humor, a tween identifying completely with Riley, and an adult who might just have left the theater understanding her own daughter a little better. Even my thirteen-year-old son loved it. How many movies can appeal to that wide of an audience?
So go see it. I’ve already seen it one and two-thirds times (long story), and I would totally see it again in a movie theater. For sure we’ll buy it on DVD and watch it a few dozen more times.
We saw Inside Out in 3D, and while the 3D is extremely well done (subtle, not gimmicky), don’t feel bad if you can’t see it in 3D. It’s the story that counts here. Everything else is gravy.
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