You know those little voices that whisper away inside your head? Ever wondered what they actually, y'know, look like?
Well, meet Inside Out, the latest animation adventure from Disney Pixar, the studio behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Up and Ratatouille. Emotional, colourful and entertaining for all ages, Inside Out sees Pixar bounce back from a few iffy years in ruder health than ever before.
Once up a time, the word Pixar was synonymous with unparalleled quality in not just animation, but film-making in general. A winning streak that saw films like Up, Wall-E and Toy Story 3 dominate the genre had given the company a formidable reputation. It's only been in recent times (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University) that this perception has been questioned.
However, all that is set to change with the release of Inside Out, the studio's fifteenth film which just so happens to be one of their best yet.
Inside Out is about an 11-year-old girl called Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), and the five colourful little voices in her head that each represent an emotion - there's Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader), who help lead her through every day life.
After growing up in the snowy surrounds of Minnesota, Riley and her parents move to San Francisco and her world is turned upside down - in a strange city without any friends, Riley's emotions become confused, with Sadness playing havoc on her previously cheery life. In order for Riley to settle into their new home, it's up to the five emotions to band together and regain balance inside her mind.
I can't really go into much more of the plot without spoiling a lot of the film, but rest assured - this is one of Pixar's most inventive, imaginative and wildly unique films so far. The internal logic of how Riley's mind works and how all the pieces fit together, is flawless. The way in which these emotions look and talk is perfect, and the way in which the film visualises things like memories, core values, imagination, dreams and long-term recall is so clever and satisfying. It just WORKS. Imagine a movie where the complexity of the mind has been boiled down into a simple, colourful setting that perfectly fits together with next to no inconsistencies, and you've got Inside Out. It's ambitious to the point of insanity, but somehow everything here feels logical and...right.
The voicework is also impeccable, particularly Amy Poehler as the personification as Joy. She's just so bubbly and cheerful, but Lewis Black as Anger deserves a shoutout for his work also. The most important thing to note is that the emotions aren't reduced to thin, two-dimensional caricatures - they might personify a single trait, but they feel like much more than than in reality.
The messaging is also beautiful - the film is all about growing up, adapting to change and not being ashamed of admitting you're sad. It's about accepting that it's okay to be upset, and finding a way to use that in a way that is positive and healthy. If you haven't been steadily welling up throughout, the rousing finale will reduce you to a blubbering and puffy mess. There really is no other word for it than 'beautiful'.
The Verdict: 9/10
Oh boy, is someone chopping onions in here? Inside Out is an emotional rollercoaster that feels like an instant classic. The voicework, visual design, animation and writing are all superb, and it's loaded with jokes for both kids and adults. The perfect family film where substance isn't buried amongst style.
Inside Out opens in cinemas across Australia on June 18th.