Pixar’s imaginative ‘Inside Out’ was so powerful that it changed the way I understand my own emotions

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‘Inside Out’ wrestles with adolescent emotions. Disney/Pixar

How do you make a grown man cry? Show them a Pixar movie, of course.

“Inside Out,” a fantastic return to form for America’s greatest animation studio, is a painstakingly made, high-stakes epic taking place inside of a brain.

This is “Inception” for kids. Although, “Inside Out” is not exactly for kids.

“Inside Out” is not the best Pixar film, but it is certainly among their most ambitious, and the kind of confidently unconventional storytelling that takes years to slowly build up.

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‘Inside Out’ is Pixar’s most human story yet.

Because they are usually bringing toys, robots, and fish to life, Pixar can sometimes have a human problem, in which the animated people are (purposely) more cartoonish than the rats and ants they provide a voice to. Well, it turns out they have finally found a way to give animated people another dimension: by personifying their emotions.

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Joy (Amy Poehler) is the one emotion that’s been with Riley since the start. Disney/Pixar

“Inside Out” takes place inside the brain of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a young girl who moves with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco, as her father (Kyle MacLachlan) is starting a new job. The move completely throws Riley off her emotional balance. Her brain is constantly fought over by different emotions personified within her — Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), and Anger (Lewis Black).

Like Andy with Woody in “Toy Story,” Riley seems to be outgrowing her oldest friend Joy, the very first emotion she ever experienced.

The corresponding voice to each emotion is so perfectly cast. Poehler brings the same optimism she brought to Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation” to Joy while Kaling brings some “Mindy Project” sass to Disgust. Fans of “The Office,” meanwhile, will be happy to hear the voice of beloved background character Phyllis as Sadness. She is the true emotional core of this very emotional film.

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Lewis Black, known for his furious rants on ‘The Daily Show,’ voices Anger in ‘Inside Out.’ Pixar/

This is the kind of movie that takes depression, loneliness, and loss and turns them into a swashbuckling adventure. It is a wonderful outlet of providing both escape and understanding of many conflicting emotions.

“Inside Out” will be great for kids who might not understand why they are so angry and confused all of the time. It will also be great for adults, who have been angry for a long time and don’t understand why. “Inside Out” might seem more mature than its target audience, but this film was truly made for everybody. It bridges the gap between old and young like most summer blockbusters don’t even bother to do anymore.

And what a beautiful looking, imaginative, and original film this is.

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Joy and Sadness become the guardians of Riley’s memories. Pixar

In the film, little orbs represent different memories, some happy and some sad, but they never distinguish between what is good and what is bad. Each part of the brain, from dreams to the subconscious, is represented in a way that I have never seen before in any movie. There is one particular scene where you’ll feel like you’re watching a Salvador Dali painting come to life. It is perhaps Pixar’s most astonishing visual feat.

The small and limited setting of the brain gives this film the highest stakes imaginable.

No, this isn’t about saving the universe or even just the world. No dinosaurs reek havoc on an island and nobody has to launch a missile through a wormhole in outer space. This is simply about a child learning how to wrestle with their emotions. And in that, it feels like every moment counts and every little mistake will lead to tremendous “Back to the Future” like consequences.

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‘Inside Out’ offers a unique vision of the human brain. Pixar via YouTube

I sat and watched this film, and by the end, I felt overwhelmingly sad. Tears flowed, and a pile of napkins from the snack bar came to the rescue. I was charmed and entertained by “Inside Out” just as I expected to be. Then, something strange happened. This film, which, again, is like “Inception” with less complicated rules, plants an idea in the head of every viewer.

After the film ended, I went home, as a 23-year-old adult, and realised that maybe I don’t understand my own emotions as well as I thought. Suddenly, all I could think about was a personified Joy and a personified Sadness wandering around the deepest parts of my brain. It is as if Pixar is trying to rewire our brains.

“Inside Out” gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “it made me feel like a kid again.” Kids have no idea what they are doing. It turns out that adults don’t either. So let’s all shut up, sit in the dark, and enjoy Pixar’s latest masterpiece together.

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