Disney Pixar’s latest 3D animation is a comedy-drama about personified human emotions. Inside Out, which tells the story from inside a young girl's head, deals sensitively with human feelings made cute: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) that impact the developing personality of 11-year-old Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias).
Riley has just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents, where she leaves behind childhood friends and fond memories of being an ace in the ice hockey team. In a new, unfamiliar home and among new students at school, Riley struggles through her emotions to find her place. In the process, Joy and Sadness find themselves out of Headquarters, with Fear, Anger and Disgust unsuccessfully running the show, till the duo find their way back.
Through the film, one learns that to make new happy memories, at times, some old ones need to die. As Riley’s imaginary childhood friend, Bing Bong, does, by sacrificing himself in the Memory Dump in order for Joy to make the winning jump back into Riley’s mind.
The characterisation of the emotions in Riley and her parents’ minds are well-etched and comical. While Riley’s are young and innocent like her, her mother’s bespectacled emotions behave mature, while the father’s are laidback, cheering an imaginary sport all the time.
The lovable Joy tries to be in control of Riley’s emotions, wanting her to be happy, always. But there is a role that all emotions, including Anger, play in developing the personality of an individual, which when directed constructively, burns through for other emotions to come through, or Disgust that keeps Riley from being ‘poisoned’ by Brocolli, a fear that lurks in her subconscious mind along with a giant party clown.
One also learns that no emotion can ‘die’ or be ‘killed’, as Fear tries to do once, packing his bags to leave. He, too, has a role—keeping Riley safe from danger. Towards the end—spoiler alert—we come to appreciate Sadness, too, who when allowed to steer, aka express herself, allows people to reach out and bond with each other. When you see Joy and Sadness standing side by side towards the end, a poem by Khalil GIbran comes to mind:
“Some of you say, joy is greater than sorrow and others say, nay, sorrow is the greater. But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
The 103-minute long film is layered much like the human mind it talks about but is told simply and endearingly, which in true Hollywood animation fashion, appeals across age groups.