Inside Out is the fifteenth film from Pixar Animation Studios. It centers around Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), the emotions in the head of a little girl who's going through an emotional time as her family relocates from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Between the merchandising film, Cars 2, the half-great, half-generic Brave, and the completely pointless Monsters University, Pixar hasn't had a good string of films recently. Luckily, they take their "inventive fun + emotional depth" formula literally with this new film to remind us how good they can actually be.
This is a fun movie, with a weird premise, and director Pete Docter manages to thoroughly and coherently establish the premise of this movie in the first ten minutes, and it's all uphill from there. Much like how he approached Monsters Inc. years ago, Docter explains the inner workings of your subconscious in ways that are clever and/or ways that strangely have some weight to them. File this under the The Matrix / Inception category of coherent, imaginative storytelling.
I really liked that the emotions (characters that, for all intents and purposes, should've been one-dimensional) were treated as rounded, three-dimensional characters (some of them at least). Joy has a character arc (not all stories need its characters to have an arc, but her's works really well), Sadness may just be the most interesting of the group, and while I didn't find the character Bing Bong (Richard Kind) all that engaging/accessible, his character really resonated with me by the end.
The film speaks volume as to where Docter came from as a child and where he is now, emotionally, and the same can be said for many who watch this film. Pixar usually finds their wins in the stories that captivate the audience by the emotional depth and sincere life lessons, and this film is where it stands out the most yet works just as well.
As I said earlier, they turn their figurative formula into a premise of a movie, and it works wonders. (Spoiler parenthesis: I know I sure as hell was impacted by the climax of Joy's arc, where she learns that repressing sadness only leads to isolation, in the middle of a literal forgotten wasteland.)
Inside Out is a film that bathes in its imaginative storytelling and emotional sincerity. I love it. And not just puppy-dog love. I mean, like, create-an-Inside-Out-character-for-this love.