Movie Review: Inside Out

While the idea isn’t original, the movie still visualizes the pains of growing up through an inventive story.

Joy, sadness, disgust, fear, and anger all try to help Riley. But just like emotions in real life, they often end up clashing with each other. It’s an accurate depiction of conflicting emotions that are much more intense during the formative years when you’re trying to figure out how to cope with life while trying to figure out who you are.

Pixar uses a narrative hurdle that most kids experience in their lifetime. The studio plays it safe compared to other struggles that you could throw in (such as divorce or loss of a pet). But it enables the characters to establish themselves which will make it easier for a potential sequel to dive into headier (pun intended) concepts.

This layered family-centered story is handled well. The movie switches between Riley’s interior world as her emotions try to solve a “technical problem” and real-life as she tries to cope with her new surroundings.

Thanks to the premise and a well-executed plot, Pixar is able to entertain a wide audience – the colorful adventure of joy and sadness will amuse kids while themes explored along the way will hit adults right in the feels.

Apart from the universal pains of growing up, Inside Out slyly tackles deep themes. When you peel back all the whimsy two important lessons are revealed: blind optimism and control.

Inspiration porn teaches us that positive thinking will solve everything, which is far from the truth. We are told to control our negative emotions and always be happy, which is counterproductive.

The perfect casting brings to life the movie’s emotions. Joy and Sadness are loveable thanks to Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith. The animated Bill Hader is perfect as Fear. Mindy Kaling pulls off an amusing valley girl as Disgust. Lewis Black fits Anger to a tee. Richard Kind is also perfect as Bing Bong the imaginary friend.

These characters could’ve been annoying but thanks to solid performances and a well-written script, they’re adequately fleshed out and worth investing in. The movie also took the time to show that different people have their own variations of these emotions in their heads, including a sneak peek at Riley’s parents’ minds.

Our destined to be iconic characters all live in a world that creatively illustrates memories and mental processes. Inside Out uses storybook colors, mechanical elements, and a retro style to produce an amusing timeless landscape.

This includes islands with mechanical avatars for core memories, a subconscious represented as an underground dungeon, and a labyrinth of shelved memories. Even the emotions are decorated with old school details. The musical score help set the mood for different places. 

As Joy and Sadness find their way through this interior world, the resolution will bring you to tears. The movie uses internal conflict instead of a caricature villain and delivers a memorable pay-off.

In the end, Inside Out doesn’t just prove to be a technical achievement for Pixar. The studio is able to deliver an animated movie that is both simple and deep. Studio Ghibli has achieved this many times as it caters to and helps shape a sophisticated younger audience in Japan. It’s time for Pixar to evolve beyond its emotionally manipulative tearjerkers.

Inside Out is not just about growing up. It’s also about dealing with complex feelings that arise as we try to figure out our way through life – loneliness, loss, and disappointment.

Most importantly, the movie teaches kids that it’s okay to let go, embrace their feelings, and deal with their emotions instead of suppressing it. It also tells parents to recognize these feelings and communicate with their kids.

Inside Out is a compelling coming-of-age tale and entertaining action-adventure in one. 

Inside Out


Inside Out is a compelling coming-of-age tale and entertaining action-adventure thanks to inventive storytelling. 

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[…] Inside Out is groundbreaking for its thematic storytelling and worldbuilding that appeals to both kids and adults. Through the story of four personified emotions helping a child adjust through a difficult phase in her life, you’re taught that feelings are complex. Forcing yourself to be happy for the sake of optimism is as toxic as wallowing in sadness. The key is understanding your emotions, rather than just trying to suppress them. […]