ByNancy Basile, writer at
I've been a fangirl since they came out with Wonder Woman Underoos. I'm a freelance writer. See my stuff on,
Nancy Basile

'Inside Out' is the next Pixar movie coming to theaters on June 19, 2015. In a summer full of decades-old superheroes ('Avengers: Age of Ultron,' 'The Fantastic Four') and reboots ('Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'Jurassic World') and sequels ('Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Insidious: Chapter 3'), 'Inside Out' will be a refreshingly unique movie with a brand-new premise.

'Inside Out' takes a look inside the mind and emotions of Riley, an 11-year-old, hockey-loving Midwesterner whose life is mostly happy till her family relocates to the big and scary city of San Francisco. Her emotions—led by energetic Joy—are on the job, eager to help guide Riley through this difficult transition. And I don't mean Joy in an abstract way. I mean Joy is the name of the character who IS an emotion inside Riley's mind.

Pixar is known for creating completely original stories, like 'Finding Nemo' and 'Toy Story.' And who would have thought an animated movie about a curmudgeonly widower would win an Oscar, a Golden Globe and come in at #5 at the box office for 2009? (I'm talking about 'Up,' in case you're wondering.)

The inspiration for 'Inside Out' came from a very real place. Director Pete Docter, who also directed 'Up,' found himself wondering what was going on inside his own 11-year-old daughter's mind. “My daughter did the voice of young Ellie in ‘Up’—that spirited, spunky kid with hair out to there—and she was a lot like the character at the time,” he says. “But by the time we started ‘Inside Out,’ Ellie was older—about 11—and she’d become quiet and withdrawn. It made me think, ‘what’s going on in her head and why is she changing?’”

He remembered what it was like to be 11, when we worry about being cool, but all the while trying to find yourself. So he used those feelings, or those ideas about feelings, to create 'Inside Out.' “I thought it would be fun,” says the director. “I wanted to explore the abstract version—not the brain, but the mind. I thought it was perfect for animation.”

So which emotions does 'Inside Out' focus on? Let's break it down.

'Inside Out' © Disney. All rights reserved.
'Inside Out' © Disney. All rights reserved.

First there's the leader, Joy (center), who is voiced by Amy Poehler ('Parks and Recreation'). Joy’s goal has always been to make sure Riley stays happy. She is lighthearted, optimistic and determined to find the fun in every situation.

Then there's Fear (purple), who is voiced by Bill Hader ('Saturday Night Live'). Fear’s main job is to protect Riley and keep her safe. He is constantly on the lookout for potential disasters, and spends time evaluating the possible dangers, pitfalls and risk involved in Riley’s everyday activities.

Next is Anger (red), who is voiced by comedian Lewis Black ('The Rant is Due: Part Deux'). Anger feels very passionately about making sure things are fair for Riley. He has a fiery spirit and tends to explode (literally) when things don’t go as planned.

Then there's Disgust (green), who is voiced by Mindy Kaling (who is no stranger to voice-over work, having played Taffyta in 'Wreck-It Ralph,' although you probably know her from 'The Mindy Project.') Disgust is highly opinionated, extremely honest and prevents Riley from getting poisoned – both physically and socially.

Of course, there's Sadness (blue, natch), who is voiced by Phyllis Smith (Phyllis on 'The Office'). None of the other Emotions really understand what Sadness’s role is. Sadness would love to be more optimistic and helpful in keeping Riley happy, but she finds it so hard to be positive. Sometimes it seems like the best thing to do is just lie on the floor and have a good cry.

While we're talking about the cast, Riley is voiced by Kaitlyn Dias ('The Shifting'), and providing the voices of Mom and Dad are Diane Lane ('Man of Steel') and Kyle MacLachlan (Marvel’s 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.').

But here's what you don't know about 'Inside Out': It isn't really Riley’s story. According to producer Jonas Rivera, “It’s a very personal story about what it means to be a parent.” He continues to say, "As a parent, there are so many perfect moments when I wish I could make time stand still forever. But that’s not right. That’s not our job. Our job is to be their guides.”

Director Pete Docter adds his experience. “As our kids grow older, we tend to miss those days when they were little and would sit on our laps and hug us,” adds Docter. “And while all parents want their kids to go out into the world—I’m happy for my kids and want nothing more than where they are right now—but it’s bittersweet and a little sad when childhood passes by. That’s a key element to this film.”

Not for the first time is Pixar focusing on a subtle message about love and the passage of time. In the 'Toy Story' series of movies, sure, it's fun watching Andy's toys on their adventures. But as the third movie in that series shows us, the real message in 'Toy Story' is about growing up, and letting go of childhood. In 'Up,' we see a different story about love and the passage of time. We watch Carl, a.k.a. Mr. Fredricksen, and his wife Ellie fall in love, grow old and die. That story is the catalyst for Carl's stratospheric adventure, as well as his eventual friendship with Russell, the son (or grandson) he never had.

In 'Inside Out,' the relationship between Joy and Sadness forms the root of the story, and when they’re inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—Imagination Land, Dream Productions, Long-term Memory—turmoil ensues in Headquarters. “Think about that,” says executive producer John Lasseter. “An 11-year-old is left without Joy and Sadness—only Anger, Fear and Disgust. Does that sound like any 11-year-olds you know?”

Lost and desperate to return to Headquarters, Joy and Sadness must actually work together to find their way home, and their thoughtful journey will reveal some surprising truths that just might change all of their minds forever.

According to Docter, the key to happiness—in the movie and beyond—is likely in how you define it. “Joy is able to learn and grow and reconsider what she thinks happiness is,” he says. “In the beginning, it’s all about laughter and ice cream—and there’s nothing wrong with that. But life shows us that it’s so much deeper."

Disney-Pixar’s original movie “Inside Out” opens in theaters June 19, 2015.


Nancy Basile writes about entertainment for Media Medusa. Check out our Inside Out Easter Eggs.

Source: Walt Disney Studios


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