Direction: Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen
Actors: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith
They have done it again. Pixar, the pioneering computer animation studio whose previous triumphs include Toy Story, WALL-E and Up, offers up another audacious adventure which can be savoured by young and adult audiences alike. Indeed, parents couldn't do better than accompany their children to experience Inside Out.
With characteristic wit and sophistication, co-directors Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and Del Carmen transport us inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) to visualize the tight-knit group of emotions which inhabit her headspace.
Struggling to adapt to the family's relocation from Minnesota to San Francisco, the youngster is initially buoyed up by Joy (dubbed in exuberant tones by Poehler), especially when recollecting her happy childhood.
Not surprisingly, her golden-hued memories are soon tinged with Sadness (Smith, sufficiently sombre). When the two primary but conflicting emotions are accidentally sucked out of the brain's control chamber, it's left to the remaining three emotional embodiments -- Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black) -- to grapple with the dire situation.
Meanwhile, wandering through the girl's bountiful imagination, Joy and Sadness work in tandem to steer her back to normalcy. Plot-wise, the proceedings may seem too abstract for pre-teens to comprehend. Fret not, for the protagonist's psyche is rendered in a riot of colours. Throughout, the level of visual invention is breathtaking.
The dazzling designs, denseness of detail and frenetic slapstick rarely let up for the film's concise 95 minutes duration. Among the captivating characters coursing through the candy-coloured cerebellum, count a gargantuan birthday clown and an elephant-trunked friend named Bing Bong (Richard Kind, in a poignant bit of voice casting).
An exhilarating music score by Pixar veteran Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles) contributes to the overall impact. ore crucially, the core message that failure and grief are as essential as happiness and success for the development of a strong personality resonates long after one has exited the multiplex.
From the first frames of the heroine's birth to the end credits which incorporates a caricature of spaced out cats, Inside Out merits inclusion in animation's Hall of Fame.
As a bonus, the feature film is preceded by Lava, a short musical love story between - better believe this - two volcanoes. Have a blast.