‘Inside Out’ is genius

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Animated films always work best when they speak to both kids and adults, and Pixar has always been one of the best at doing just that. After a few money-grabbing, sub-par sequels (“Cars 2” and “Monsters University”) it’s really refreshing to see them come back strong.

Here are five questions for “Inside Out.”

What’s it about?

We learn that a person’s mind is controlled by five basic emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. The emotions inside of 11-year-old Riley start to lose control when she’s forced to move from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents, sending Joy and Sadness on an adventure through the different dimensions of Riley’s mind while the other three emotions try to keep Riley’s emotions in check at the control center.

If you had to review the film in one word, what would that word be?

Genius. We’ve all seen many versions in TV and film of how our brain controls our actions, but writer and director Pete Docter takes it to the next level, and the word I kept thinking to myself as he revealed each dimension was “genius.” From the introduction of the five emotions to the revelation of the different memory islands to the random other characters Joy and Sadness encounter on their journey back to the control center, I had to admire how he was able to portray something so limitless and complicated in a simple way that totally makes sense. “Inside Out” really made me think, “Ah, so that’s how my mind works!” Amazing. The visuals are stunning. The comedy is gold. Even the musical score is spot on. “Inside Out” takes a brilliant concept and executes it flawlessly.

insideout1How were the voice actors?

Perfect. The five emotions played by Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Lewis Black (Anger) and Bill Hader (Fear) are perfectly portrayed with fun, animated performances, but with enough restraint to avoid going over the top. I also loved Richard Kind as the imaginary friend Bing Bong.

Does the film appeal to adults?

Indubitably. There are tons of gags for the kiddies, but adults will enjoy the more layered and mature references as well. There’s even a nod to the film classic “Chinatown” that kids will have no clue about, but film buffs will totally appreciate.

“Inside Out” also allows adults to reminisce about younger, innocent times and might even give them some insight to how their kids think. I really think this film wouldn’t be a bad instructional tool in Psych 101 classes. Oh, and bring a tissue. I haven’t heard adults bawl that much since I saw “E.T.”

insideout2That good, huh?

I’ve stated numerous times that I’m not the biggest fan of animated films. But somehow I have a pretty strong feeling that “Inside Out” will be on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. Yes, it’s that good.