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Katy England Katy England
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Inside Out' is an emotional roller coaster

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Let's just start by saying that Pixar's latest movie 'Inside Out' is amazing. Of course it is. But it's also slightly different than past Pixar offerings and you should probably bring a pack of tissues. Though, this is coming from the office mom, with a degree in crying at movies.

This follows the life of Riley and her inner emotions, Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear. The first emotion on the scene is Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler, TV's 'Parks and Rec') followed almost immediately by Sadness (Phyllis Smith, TV's 'The Office'). They are joined by Anger (Lewis Black, 'The Daily Show'), Disgust (Mindy Kaling, TV's 'The Office') and Fear (Bill Hader, 'Accidental Love'). All is going well as Riley is growing up, and most of the memories she's formed are ones of Joy they form the core of her personality, surrounded by loving family, friends.

But all that changes, when 11-year-old Riley is uprooted from her home when her family moves to from Minnesota to California. Suddenly, Joy isn't calling the majority of the shots or making the majority of the memories. And then when Sadness starts fiddling with some of the core memories and making them take on the tinge of sadness, Joy gets defensive and tragedy strikes. Both Joy and Sadness, along withallof Riley's core memories the pieces of her personality that make Riley who she is - are accidentally ejected from Headquarters, finding themselves in the labyrinthine corridors of Long-Term Memory.

While Joy and Sadness are lost, Fear, Anger and Disgust do their best to take the reins. But things don't go well and Riley starts to act out. Her core personalities start to fall apart. While Joy and Sadness try to get back to Headquarters before it's too late, Joy learns to understand the importance of Sadness and how it functions in Riley.

One thing that struck me as different was that Pixar decided to not always go for the laugh here. Instead they went for the emotional jugular time and time again to great success. Rather than the slapstick situational humor that has been the hallmark of many of their past films ('Toy Story,' 'Monsters, Inc.' and 'Fining Nemo') they put a lot of their chips into the emotional basket. Those earlier films always had elements of nostalgia and growing up it's just that this time it's not the side show, it's center stage, and comedy takes a back seat. Again, this isn't a bad thing. You may have to explain to your kid why you're crying so much, but that's also kind of the point.

Everyone does a stand-up job, and though many people will be (rightfully) talking about Poehler's dynamic performance as Joy, where she at once brings a vibrancy and enthusiasm that is needed to the character, as well a depth during her arc nods need to be giving to Smith's solid performance as Sadness. She plays it with such sensitivity and warmth; she brings a whole new layer of soul to the film.

I'd be remiss not to mention Richard Kind's (TV's 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt') stellar performance as Bing Bong, Riley's all-but-forgotten Imaginary Friend who helps Joy and Sadness on their journey back home. Being able to carry the humor and sadness in animation was critical on so many levels and he, Poehler and Smith just nailed it again and again.

Any person who moved growing up will be wondering if they'll be receiving a royalty check from Pixar, since they nailed the emotional roller coaster and the new sense of sadness. And I think that's why there were fewer jokes: they needed to take the sadness seriously. To do that, they took the gloves off and let us really feel the sadness, in the way they normally have the audience feel the joy. Because, sometimes you just need to feel it and it will be OK.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 17:12


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