[vc_row][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]You can't throw a rock at a review of Up without hitting a sentence about its first 15 minutes. Minus the near-silent opening of WALL-E, it may be Pixar's most celebrated accomplishment: a powerful gut-punch that would be a welcome wallop in any movie, let alone one ostensibly aimed at kids. Pete Docter — an original Pixar employee and the brains behind that unexpected Best Picture nominee — opened people's eyes to what animation can accomplish, and in doing so set the bar quite high for his future endeavors. His latest creation, Inside Out, doesn't quite reach those levels of brilliance. It's a lovely, frolicking movie, though, with the usual Pixar charm and enough brutal honesty of its own to induce an emotional response in all but the most callous filmgoer.
Most of Inside Out occurs inside the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who has just moved with her parents from Minnesota to San Francisco. Five emotions live within her: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black). They all jockey for control of a panel that dictates her every reaction, and they keep watch over the memories that pile up after moments both big and small. But they're learning on the job just as Riley is growing, and when sad feelings start to overpower happy ones they set off a chain of events that Docter effectively frames as The Most Important Thing in the World.
The interactions between the emotions are wonderful. It's no surprise to fans of comedy that Hader, Kaling and Black all bring the funny with ease, but it's Smith who is the real revelation. Joy and Sadness are the emotional core of the crew, and the latter has to handle most of the heavy lifting. Smith bounces between comically depressed and downright distraught with ease; what appears to be a bumbling assistant role is revealed as a key cog in the development of not only Riley but human beings in general, and Smith nails a character who's delighted to find her skills are far more useful than anyone realizes.