Inside out Entertainment for the Family!

I want to know one thing...where was this film when I had to take Psych 1 in school? That class would have been so much more fun accompanied by this engaging film that takes us inside the human mind so cleverly. From the minds behind "Up", "Toy Story 3" and "Finding Nemo" comes this Pixar and Disney film that allows us to explore the psychology of a little girl in the most entertaining format you'll ever see.

The story revolves around 11-year old Riley Anderson and the inner workings of her mind as she navigates through transition. "Inside Out" highlights cultural idioms like the 'memory dump', 'train of thought', 'imagination land' and a 'recall tube', that all personify emotions in imaginative ways. Riley's mind houses five personifications of her core emotions - Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger that live in the "Headquarters," which are Riley's conscious mind. Her emotions influence her actions and memories via a control center. Her new memories are housed in colored orbs, which are sent into storage at the end of every waking period. Riley's "core" memories are housed in a hub in Headquarters and supply the power to five "islands," each of which reflects a different aspect of her personality. Joy acts as the dominant emotion to keep Riley in a happy state. However, when her parents move her from Minnesota to San Francisco, her emotions drastically change. A mad scramble takes place in her emotions to return her to the Joy that characterized her personality. But, along the way many discoveries are made painting a comprehensive picture of emotions and the significant role each and every one plays in the human mind.

The lead roles are delightfully played by Amy Poehler as "Joy," Phyllis Smith as "Sadness," Bill Hader as "Fear," Lewis Black as "Anger," and Mindy Kaling as "Disgust." Riley's parents are played by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan. These stars sprung their characters into life with clarity and humor that had me laughing at every turn. Each of the emotions were vividly characterized and felt close to home. But it was Phyllis Smith's character Sadness - played with the right touch of Eeyore-style mournfulness that I wanted to alternately slap then hug, then slap, then get it. Veteran actor Richard Kind played Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary friend who leads her into one mess after another with hysterical results. 

Pixar took five years to make the film which typifies their slow brew and thoroughbred approach to the animation process. And, I for one am glad that they do, because it's the studio's attention to detail, realistic characters and engaging story lines that typifies their standard-setting feature films that have grossed $10 billion dollars globally since "Toy Story" made its debut in 1995. The producers consulted numerous psychologists in the process of making this film in order to convey the most accurate representation of the neuropsycohology of the human mind. The brilliance of the entire project was in portraying the mind's hub as a control panel with all the emotions scrambling for dominance.

"Inside Out" tugged on your heart strings and resonated because it was like seeing how your insides work - making it feel remarkably real. Riley was a typical young American girl, but her struggles to transition in a new environment and cope with loss were not foreign to any of us that have maneuvered the choppy waters of drastic change. 

This 94-minutes of laughter was co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen and Jonas Rivera, and it grossed $90 million domestic in its opening weekend, making it the highest opening for an original title film - EVER. But, that's hardly surprising given Pixar's history of presenting grown-up films masquerading as child-friendly animations - a winning formula for a grabbing a larger audience that has worked out so far. Even if you don't normally watch animated films you'll enjoy this one (trust me). It's clever, superbly done, intuitive, silly funny and an entertainment hit-out-of-the-park! So if you are ready for a few laughs combined with awesome animation, a cute story and a little science thrown in for good measure - pull up a chair and some popcorn and get ready to be turned inside out. 

Phylllis Smith, Bill Nader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Amy Poehler


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