INSIDE OUT – A Review by John Strange

By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen (co-director)
Cast: Diane Lane, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Frank Oz, Lewis Black
MPAA Rating: PG (for mild thematic elements and some action)
Selig Rating: Matinee
Runtime: 102 Min.
Our emotions rule us.  From the moment we open our eyes until the last time we close them, emotions color our view of the world.  For Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), Joy (Amy Poehler) was her first emotion as she opened her eyes and beheld her parents.  In fact, Joy was the preeminent emotion of her early years.
That’s not to say that other emotions didn’t make appearances.  Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) all had a role to play in her life.  Sadness gave her a perspective on her life that balanced the Joy she felt.  Fear keeps her from going places she shouldn’t or doing things she shouldn’t.  Anger, well anger helped her when she needed a shot of courage.  Disgust, early on, was the great defender who tried to protect young Riley from the dreaded… BROCCOLI!
For graphic purposes, Pixar has given us an amazing control room where the emotions affect young Riley as needed.  They use large glowing pearl-like orbs that contain memories, color-coded to the emotion that influenced them.  These memories are stored in an amazing storage setup that looks like a mammoth storage a bowling alley might have.  There is a set of memories that reside in a special reservoir that contain what are called the “core memories”.
Joy and the other emotions work well together.  As Riley grows up they watch her learn to walk, to play ice hockey, to interact with her friends.  All of these activities are influenced by her emotions.
Her emotions are thrown for a loop when Riley’s parents (Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane) announce they are moving from Minnesota to San Francisco.  Fear, Anger, Sadness are all in the forefront of Riley’s feelings.  Fr the first time, Sadness begins to creep into more and more of the action.  She isn’t trying to but she has a need to touch all of the memories.  Each time she does the memory is tainted with sadness.
While this is going on, Riley’s reactions to her new environment are steadily growing darker.  In the background, Sadness feels the need to touch the core memories.  Joy tries to stop her and in the struggle, the memories are sucked into the tube which is used to transport memories to long term storage.
Leaving Fear, Anger, and Disgust to mind the store, Joy and Sadness rush to try and recover the memories.  They allow themselves to be sucked into the same system.  Their journey to gather the memories takes on tour guide, Riley’s old imaginary friend, Bing-Bog (Richard Kind). 
After they recover the memories, Bing-Bong has to help them get to the train to travel back to control.  They miss the train at the closest stop.  Bing-Bong leads them on a shortcut through Imagination Land where things get strange.  The whole journey is wild and a bit weird.
Meanwhile, the trio of emotions still in the control room are not doing a good job assisting Riley to adjust to life in her new home and school.  Riley becomes increasingly moody and sullen.  She blows off the ice hockey tryouts and things continue to worsen for her. The emotions do their best to guide the young girl but continually make things worse.  The thought is put into her mind that she should return to Minnesota where she was happy.
It comes down to a race to see whether Joy and Sadness can get back to control before Riley succeeds in running away.  The obstacles that the emotions must overcome seem to be way above their abilities leaving only luck to save the day.
Riley manages to buy a bus ticket back to Minnesota using her mother’s credit card.  Her parents are busy and don’t catch that Riley is gone until she fails to be home for dinner. Can Joy and Sadness save the day?  Will Riley’s dark emotions take her away from her parents? 
This is the type of story where our friends at Pixar excel.  The visuals of this story are awesome.  My only concern is that the story may be more complex than the average youngster can appreciate.  Adults will drink in the story and catch all of the nuances but most of the tastiest bits of the story will fly right over the kid’s heads.  Were it not for this I would have awarded the film our highest rating.  As it is I feel I have to give it a MATINEE rating.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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