‘Inside’ the adolescent mind

By Kayla Whittle
Staff Writer

It’s safe to assume that nowadays anyone you meet will have watched at least one Pixar film, if not a dozen. They have all been visibly, creatively and emotionally stimulating for millions of children and adults around the world. The release of Pixar’s latest feature film, “Inside Out,” takes that emotional level to new heights by personifying the emotions themselves.

“Inside Out” tells the story of Riley, a young girl struggling to come to terms with a move that will take her away from the home, friends and hockey team that she’s always loved. While the film focuses on Riley, particular attention is paid to the emotions within her head that guide her every move.

Poehler brings Joy to the big screen.
Poehler brings Joy to the big screen. (AP Photo)

There are five central feelings — Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear — who dictate how Riley processes information and in turn, behaves. Each feeling is voiced by a different actor that brings the emotion to life in a distinct and wildly entertaining way. For example, bubbly Amy Poehler voices Joy, while the comedic Mindy Kaling plays Disgust.

Like most films, everything is going well until it all takes a horrifying turn for the worst. In this case, things begin to go downhill when one of Riley’s core memories is accidentally tainted with sadness. In the scenes that follow, her other memories are knocked out of place and two of Riley’s central feelings, Joy and Sadness, are plunged into the depths of Riley’s mind. This leaves Riley with the troublesome trio of Disgust, Anger and Fear to control her mind and how she copes with the move.

What makes this latest Pixar film different is how utterly realistic Riley’s situation is, despite the fantastical backdrop of the plot. Riley is simply another teenager struggling to accept a major life change. At one point, Riley is so upset that she cannot even imagine being happy about anything ever again, a low most people can relate to.

With Riley’s emotions out of whack, her introspective journey offers an interesting look at the confusion that comes with adolescence and growing up. The film demonstrates the importance of each emotion, including sadness and fear, as well as how they can all be balanced in a healthy manner.

This Pixar success is sure to please audience members of all ages. Viewers will laugh until they are out of breath, fall in love with the film’s characters and then have their hearts break in impossible ways. “Inside Out” is an emotional rollercoaster — and appropriately so considering the storyline.