"Inside Out" Review: Laugh. Cry. Repeat!

Laugh. Cry. Repeat. That pretty much sums up what Pixar’s latest and perhaps greatest film is guaranteed to make you do. “Inside Out” takes the complex theme of how we deal with our emotions and presents it in a simply beautiful and entertaining 94 minutes.

Riley Anderson is eleven years old. Her parents have just moved the family from Minnesota to San Francisco. She’s left behind her friends, champion hockey team and everything she knows. The voices in her head- Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), and Fear (Bill Hader)- are doing their best to help her deal with it from their headquarters in a tower high above all of her memories. 

After a couple of days of being in the new house, Riley’s emotions really begin to tug on her, which means chaos for headquarters. The event sends Joy and Sadness on a journey to try and make Riley happy again. Visiting places like long term memory, Goofball Island, Friendship Island and more, the duo meet old friends along the way. 

What makes this film great is the screenwriting! It perfectly blends what’s happening outside of Riley with the events that are taking place inside her mind. The cause and effect of her parents questioning her and Anger being at the controls make for plenty of laughs. Yet, Pixar delves into the intricacies of how a good memory can become bittersweet. Writer/director team Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen nail the natural growth that takes place when we encounter new life experiences which help to shape and mold our character! 

Pixar has always been great at making films that appeal to children but that parents can appreciate as well. I saw the film with a mixed bag of children and adults and my only concern is that the parents seemed to identify more with the film than kids did. Perhaps it’s because many of them hadn’t reached Riley’s cinematic age themselves, or haven’t dealt with loss outside of a toy, etc. I in no way doubt a child’s ability to comprehend the film, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some kids don’t latch on quite as well as others.

“Inside Out” tells a universal story that puts humanity’s feelings on display in a way that hasn’t been seen before. It’s a great ride from beginning to end, and one of the best kids’ flicks to come out in a while proving that Pixar is still king of animation. It may be debated whether it’s one of Pixar’s greatest, but you should definitely see it this weekend and judge for yourself!

Rating: A

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.