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How A Mind Works: Inside Out

Updated on July 12, 2015

Life brings each person who comes into the world unique experiences which shape their view of the world. The Pixar movie Inside Out shows the inner workings of the mind as a girl experiences her world. A team of five distinct emotions works to assimilate life for eleven-year-old Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias). Joy (Amy Poehler) aways looks at the bright side of life. Sadness (Phyllis Smith) never sees joy in anything. Fear (Bill Hader) always worries about keeping Riley safe. Disgust (Mindy Kaling) serves as arbiter of things Riley doesn't like, and Anger (Lewis Black) looks for any excuse to explode. Riley had lived with her parents (Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane) in Minnesota, but a business move by Mr. Anderson also meant a move to San Francisco. Riley tries making a good impression at her new school, but nothing she does seems to go right.

Meanwhile, in Riley's emotional headquarters, Joy and Sadness get into a dispute over Sadness's touching the good core memories Riley has. In that dispute, Joy and Sadness get sucked out of headquarters and into other parts of her head. Fear, Anger, and Disgust do their best to keep things under control, but they don't fare well. Joy and Sadness find their way back to headquarters filled with unexpected detours. However, they get help from Bing Bong (Richard Kind), a clown-like figure that was once a bigger part of Riley's life. He knows his way around Riley's head, just as Sadness. Bing Bong promises to get them back to where they belong. Along the way, they almost get lost in a sea of discarded memories. Riley, meanwhile, quietly plans to run away to Minnesota.

Inside Out is a sometimes funny and sometimes serious look at a girl going through a hard time in her life. The script comes from co-director and co-writer Pete Docter, who also directed Up, a feature with the same sorts of emotions. Both Riley and Carl Fredriksen go through good times, followed by a loss that impacts them, and finding a way to overcome the loss. Docter gets help with the writing and directing from Ronnie Del Carmen, who'd worked in a different capacity on Up. They creatively show how Riley's mind not only works, but shows how she deals with the changes she has experienced. For example, the directors show all of the islands that signify things of importance to the main character, but show those islands crumbling because Riley is no longer such a little girl. Everyone in her head tries to keep up with the changes so she won't make any big mistakes. Up was a little more adventurous and well-rounded than Inside Out, but the latter is still a film that kids and adults should enjoy.

I like the teaming of Poehler and Smith as emotions who don't realize how much they need one another. Joy likes to think herself a leader and keeps a positive attitude, but Sadness combines emotion and intellect, and makes her presence necessary for their return. Sadness really isn't doing anything wrong by touching Riley's core memories; she merely adds reflection on times that have passed. Kind, as Bing Bong, has become a distant part of Riley's past. Yet, he still roams in Riley's head with a goodness that Joy cannot match, as he demonstrates in their time together. Hader and Kaling do a nice job with their limited work, but Black steals his scenes as Anger, waiting for any excuse to erupt. His highly-charged eruptions eventually help Joy and Sadness return to headquarters. Some might think Black's Anger might be scary in the head of a pre-teen girl. The theatrical release of this film also contains a musical short entitled Lava, a pleasant look at a Pacific island volcano looking to not be alone in his existence.

Experience is not only a part of every person's life, but so is change. Inside Out takes a good look at the most important change to date in the life of Riley Anderson. Inside her, the emotions need to come to deal with the changes and keep Riley moving forward. Life is changing for her, and her emotions have to help her take in the new experiences. Together, they must learn to deal with this new phase and other new phases that may come.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Inside Out 3.5 stars. This is the life of Riley.


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    • profile image

      Pat Mills 2 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Thank you.

    • alexseidler profile image

      alexseidler 2 years ago

      I enjoyed your review. I couldn't have said it any better myself.