Inside Out: “PG” (1 Hours 42 Minutes)
Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith
Directed by: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
As we all know, growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her dad (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan) starts a new job in San Francisco. Needless to say, like the rest of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (voiced by Poehler), Fear (voiced by Hader), Anger (Voiced by Black), Disgust (Kaling), and Sadness (Smith). These emotions live in Headquarters (that is to say, inside Riley’s head), which is where they help assist Riley throughout everyday life. As Riley and her burgeoning emotions struggle to adjust to this new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters when an unfortunate accident disrupts the natural order of things, and causes no small amount consternation to Riley, her mom (Diane Lane) and her dad.
Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, continually attempts to keep things positive and moving forward in an orderly fashion, the emotions are in conflict over how best to navigate the new city, house and school. Problem is Sadness likes to be involved, and Joy, really doesn’t what her to be involved, because, well, she’s sadness, and whenever Sadness touches a memory sphere, she darkens it with her own sadness, making Riley’s life darker and more hopeless. As the film progresses each of the emotions sets off a cascade of events inside Riley’s head that (quite naturally) results in a reciprocating chain of events that paly out hi her real life.
This film is really very cute as it plays off the idea that there are little people inside out heads that help control our lives (We are reminded of a similar sketch in the classic Woody Allen film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask where we were inside a guy’s head during an amorous adventure). Here Riley is not happy that she was forced to move away from her friends, the cold weather, ice hockey, and the stress of moving half a country away from the familiar, now she is confused by the changes going on in her life (compounded by the fact that Sadness inadvertently corrupts a core memory and she, Joy, and the core memory spheres get accidently shunted into long-term memory where they must figure out how to return to HQ before Riley’s life goes completely off the rails.
The film runs back and forth between sweet, silly moments and moments of deep, dark despair. All of which makes this an ideal kids’ movie that should be viewed with adults, as it actually offers up a deeper insight into how kids’ lives get all turned around and perhaps even why they might make such horribly bad decisions. Throughout the film we stay mostly inside Riley’s head (with side trips into each of her parent’s heads) but then at the end of the film we get inside several of the other characters, which gives us some of the very silly moments of the film.
The film is preceded by an animated short entitled Lava.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.