LAHORE, Pakistan – Judging from the theatrical release poster, Inside Out seemed like another infantile movie aimed at the general kiddie populace. I have to admit that I was much unpleased when my friends dragged me to the cinema to watch it.
But 94 minutes later, my assumptions about the latest Pixar release had taken a complete U-turn.
Inside Out is a comedy-drama that revolves around the interplay between five cartoon character emotions: Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, Sadness, voiced by
Phyllis Smith, Anger, voiced by Lewis Black, Disgust, voiced by Mindy Kaling and Fear, voiced by Bill Hader.
The five emotions live inside the head of Riley, an 11-year-old girl. Much of the movie takes place at HQ, the head-quarters established in a part of Riley’s mind.
Equipped with a sleek control board and an elaborate – seemingly self-sustaining – mechanism for storing the little girl’s memories, it’s the perfect setting for the five emotions to interact and control Riley’s actions.
Other parts of her brain include fascinating things like Family Island, Goofball Island (my personal favorite) and other islands, each one reflecting an important part of her life. There’s also a Train of Thought that carries us through her subconscious, and an imaginary boyfriend whose tagline is “I would die for Riley.”
Needless to say, all of this is accentuated by vivid and overtly colorful animations.
Inside HQ, Joy is the unofficial leader of the eccentric group, always trying her best to make Riley’s life a happy one. She’s successful at it too, until the inevitable happens: Riley has to move away from her hometown in Minnesota to San Francisco.
The story picks up pace on the dreaded first day of school in her new home. More precisely, the even more dreaded prospect for Riley – having to introduce herself in front of the entire class.
Due to an intervention on Sadness’ behalf, the whole thing turns into a disaster of epic proportions, not only for Riley but for the emotions themselves.
The movie has tons to offer to engage youngsters – from funny anecdotes of baby Riley to her long-lost imaginary friend Bing Bong. Spoiler-alert: he’s a cat/elephant/dolphin hybrid made of candy floss and he cries sweets.
But the film also has thought-provoking adult themes, like how it feels to grow up.
A striking manner in which Inside Out differs from other Pixar releases is the world where Riley lives. Everything that happens there is something that could easily happen to
one of us.
This gives the movie an added spark of personal association. The events linger in your mind days after you’ve watched the film and you end up relating them to your daily life.
The precise use of emotions at exactly the right time in the plot’s progression makes the story even more real.
Director Pete Docter understands the beauty of subtlety and employs it in his brilliant direction of the movie. I expected nothing less from him after his 2009 Pixar hit, Up.
Inside Out is a thrilling journey of encountering conflicting emotions, the innocence of childhood and nostalgia. The exchanges between the five emotions are entertaining to watch and make the whole ride well worth it.
Hafsa Ahmed is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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