Inside Out

Year: 2015
Production Co: Pixar
Studio: Disney
Director: Pete Docter
Writer: Pete Docter/Ronnie Del Carmen/Meg LeFauve/Josh Cooley
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Monday Kaling, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, Rashida Jones

At first glance Inside Out doesn't seem to have much in common with Wall.E, but both films have the same breadth, scope and attention to world-building detail that's so good they almost overshadow the story.

It also uses a funny shorthand to explain the goings on inside the brain as 11 year old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) moves with her family to San Francisco and life takes a turn for the worse.

We've seen the genesis of her emotions created when she's born, starting with Joy (Amy Poehler), then following with the other core emotions inspired by some of the basic emotional states known to neuroscience – fear (Bill Hader), disgust (Mindy Kaling), sadness (Phyllis Smith) and anger (Lewis Black).

They jostle in Riley's head just like they do in all of us – including her parents in a couple of funny but slightly tiresome scenes that adhere strongly to the Hollywood stereotypes of men versus women. And they all collect, catalogue and colour her memories (literally, each one a large marble shaped object coloured according to its emotional content), letting Riley view her entire life through them.

But when a mishap in memory HQ ejects Joy and Sadness off into the far reaches of the brain, Riley's left with only anger, fear and disgust fighting for control and with no idea what to do after Joy has always been the captain of the ship.

It starts a road trip where Joy and Sadness have to try to make their way back to headquarters, depicted as a high platform at the top of a Tron -like shaft of light in space.

Surrounding it is a huge valley around which cities sprout that represent collective memories of family, fun, imagination, etc, and they're in turn surrounded by huge banks of memories, stored in racks and subject to constant maintenance. Another memorable and funny scene depicts sanitation-like technicians who read the descriptions of stored memories and decide which ones to eject into the netherworld at the edge of the cliffs where memories are sent to be forgotten.

I'm still not the biggest family movie fan. Even when it talks about a topic I love like neuroscience (however simply), I still can't see past the same dreary Middle American protestant values they all peddle (although it has to be said the admission that sadness is a legitimate part of life is a bold move for a Hollywood movie).

If you're the same, take all the comment about how affecting it is for adults as well as kids with a pinch of salt. Visually it's as spectacularly designed and realised as anything Pixar has done, and there are a couple of pleasantly funny laugh out loud gags. The story's been polished until it hums like all Disney product, and after all the so-so sequels it's actually good to know Pixar can still do something this original and good looking.

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