Inside Out has really put Pixar back at the top of it's game. It is the company's best movie in years, since Toy Story 3. It follows the 5 main emotions, Joy, Disgust, Anger, Fear and Sadness, inside a little girl named Riley's head as they navigate her through various obstacles, i.e. life. The emotions really dictate the film, and carry it through, making way for scenes where each gets to shine in enjoyable and touching moments.
The voices Riley hears inside her head are lent by some of the best funny people currently out there. This really is an all star cast: Mindy Kaling is a perfect diva as Disgust, Bill Hader is hilariously panic stricken as Fear, Lewis Black is his hotheaded self, yelling out as Anger, Amy Poehler is a complete and honest Joy and Phyllis Smith creates the most brilliant shade of blue as Sadness. Rounding out the cast is another great performance from Richard Kind, as well as a few incredible cameos that you may not recognize until the end credits. This dynamic grouping creates some of the best chemistry a Pixar movie has seen.
The story starts out slow and light and fluffy, with brightly saturated colors and lots of pep and love and great humor. But don't let that fool you. As you grow closer to these characters and what they symbolize, your heart will be tugged on more than one occasion. Take the opening sequence of Up, with it's thorough storytelling through simple imagery that gives just enough information for the moment, and scatter moments like that all throughout the movie. Inside Out is actually written very cleverly. It allows a film that is skewed towards very young audience members to hit a heavy subject and possibly uncomfortable themes, but not in too much of a frightening way.
The film is also clever in its theory and philosophy. The idea of how emotions and thoughts and imagination works and how they all interact and coexist with each other in a world within our brain is fun. How all of those instances and internal interactions effect us outwardly is also important, and could be something very hard to get a handle on. Here, Pixar manages to create a solid foundation for all of this, while still being able to actually remain abstract enough to allow for almost anything to happen. And it all happens to a brilliant mood swing of a soundtrack by Michael Giacchino.
Everything presented here is completely accessible and relatable, on both a large general scale as well as one small and personal. Kids and adults will both be able to understand and sympathize with these characters, and what goes on inside and outside of our heads. We all go though life in this way, whether we have realized it before now or not. But seeing how it actually plays out and the thought process behind it is an absolute wonder. It's a hockey puck that Pixar knocks right into the goal.