Listen to your head, see ‘Inside Out’

By Bob Bloom

Parents and adolescents, more so than youngsters, will appreciate the humor in Disney-Pixar’s new animated feature,
“Inside Out.”
The movie’s concept is imaginative, showing us the life of a girl named Riley through the emotions in her head. These are led by Joy and also include Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.
Some of the movie’s concepts — a journey into the subconscious, for example — will be over the heads of very young audience members, but inside out 2ndwill be received with knowing nods from moms and dads.
The little ones, however, will find the characters engaging and entertaining, and will laugh at some of their antics — even if they don’t fully grasp their meanings.
As Joy, Amy Poehler is the leader of this mental menagerie, keeping the others in check, while continually putting a positive spin on every situation.
Lewis Black was born to be the voice of Anger, and he does not disappoint. Ready to erupt like a simmering volcano, his Anger shoots flames from the top of his head from even the slightest perceived mishap or setback.
Phyllis Smith’s Sadness is quite funny as she constantly spews her pessimistic outlook on every situation. She reminds you of the Debbie Downer character Rachel Dratch portrayed on “Saturday Night Live.”
Bill Hader as Fear and Mindy Kaling as Disgust have their moments, but for the most part, take a back seat to the others.
The thin plot centers on the family’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco and the turmoil it creates for Riley, especially after Joy and Sadness get separated from the other emotions.
Joy and Sadness must get back to headquarters in order to stabilize Riley and set things on a normal path.
During the journey, they discover some nooks and crannies, as well as some dark places, they never could imagine.
Veteran character actor Richard Kind helps lighten the mood with his performance as Bing Bong, Riley’s make-believe childhood friend.
Kind’s exuberance and verve keep the middle section of the film from becoming too depressing and scary for the kids.
Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen keep the pace lively, though the sequences centering on the efforts of Joy and Sadness to return to headquarters could have been trimmed a bit.
“Inside Out” is original and inventive; it may not be a mind-blowing experience, but it is one of the best efforts from Pixar in several years.
The kids will laugh and parents will exchange glances, grin and remember similar experiences with their offspring.
A Pixar short, entitled “Lava,” precedes the film. It is a fair diversion, but not up to the level of earlier efforts.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and The Film Yap ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes:

3½ stars out of 4
(PG), action, some disturbing themes

  • ReelBob

    Tell us at ReelBob what the voices in your head say about “Inside Out.”