Critics get it right with Pixar's 'Inside Out'

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HEADQUARTERS — If you’ve taken any interest in Pixar’s latest summer offering, “Inside Out,” you may have raised an eyebrow at the virtual Care Bear stare critics have been beaming at the project.

“Inside Out” is being called challenging, brilliant, original, heartfelt, hilarious and any other number of critic-clichéd adjectives you’d expect to hear about a movie sitting at 99 percent on But sometimes when critics, myself included, get behind a movie with this much enthusiasm, it ends up being an alienating message piece never intended for general audiences.

Luckily for everyone, “Inside Out” isn’t that movie. “Inside Out” is that rare, oh, so very rare, marriage of accessibility and unconventionality. You as a movie lover will be free either to sit back and enjoy a beautifully honest family experience or hyperanalyze how difficult it must’ve been for director Pete Docter to fold wildly different realities into a single, worthwhile adventure.

No matter which path you let your brain take, “Inside Out” has a lot to offer. Let’s go ahead and chat about a few highlights.

The overview

In case this is the first time you’re hearing about the film, let’s get the high-level overview out of the way.

In “Inside Out,” we follow the story of Joy (Amy Poehler), the primary emotion and personality captain of a young, energetic girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). When Riley’s family makes a move to the big city, Joy takes it upon herself to help Riley find the bright side of her new and sometimes scary surroundings. However, when Joy gets sucked away with her least favorite emotion, Sadness (Phyllis Smith), it’s up to Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) to guide Riley to a healthy outlook on this new chapter of her life.

The characters


Who knew you could become so emotionally attached to emotions?

The driving relationship taking place in “Inside Out” centers on Riley and her bubbly inner optimist Joy. While Riley goes through her daily routines having no idea Joy exists, Joy devotes her every energy to Riley’s happiness.

True, when put that way, it sounds a bit unhealthy. But within the rules defined in the “Inside Out” universe, Joy and Riley’s story is the sweetest thing coming out of the summer of 2015.

But “Inside Out” doesn’t rest entirely on a single union. Audiences will enjoy “Inside Out” because of the moments between a father and his daughter or between confused parents, or the times Riley’s emotions try to find a safe place for their favorite person in the world. “Inside Out” is a movie that gets how important characters are, even when there’s already a compelling concept to hang your hat on.

The emotions

In this section, we’re no longer talking about the characters who happen to be emotions. We’re talking about your emotions and how you’re going to get to know every one of them while enjoying this 94-minute tale.


Fear, Sadness, Joy, Anger and even Disgust will get their moments to shine inside your head while you’re watching “Inside Out” this weekend, and how cool is that? As you see them on the screen and then feel them at the same time, you can say, “I totally know her in real life.”

The design

I had the chance to chat with Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera a few months back, and when I commented on the realism involved in the film, Docter pointed out that this is actually one of the most cartoony movies in the Pixar library.

When you take another look at the characters, it's clear Docter is spot-on with his assessment. There is kind of a celebration here of the simplistic yet overly exaggerated features of a Saturday morning cartoon. The world inside Riley’s head is colorful and compartmentalized into challenges, and the library of core memories looks like a giant, glowing bowl of Trix cereal.

“Inside Out” will probably go down in history as Pixar’s most sophisticated and conceptual offering, but that doesn’t come at the high price of the innocence or fun our children or inner children have come to expect from animated offerings.


The winner of this year’s best animated picture has already been decided. Oh, sure, we’d like to see “Minions,” “The Peanuts Movie” and even Pixar’s next original piece, “The Good Dinosaur,” but let’s not be coy — “Inside Out” is something special. Movie audiences know when all the cards have fallen into place, and that’s exactly what’s happened with this delightfully complicated, simple little masterpiece.

About the Author: Travis Poppleton ----------------------------------

Travis Poppleton has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and since 2010 and co-hosts the FlixJunkies podcast. You can contact him at

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