The movie's concept borders on pure genius. Inside every human's mind, key emotions are personified as little creatures that compete to control their host body – a young girl called Riley being the focus here. That sounds almost like a body horror movie that David Cronenberg would be proud of, but the likes of Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader) and Anger (Lewis Black) are a loveable bunch with disarming dynamics that cut through any cynicism you may have.
It's all a clever vehicle to form an endearing examination of how the mind works during your formative years, with many relatable scenarios making you either smile or wince as your own recollections of youth flood back. But just when the novelty starts to wear off, the story propels Joy and Sadness together on a quest to steer the increasingly disillusioned Riley on the right path in life.
The sheer number of throwaway gags that work ensure plenty of laughter, with the negative emotions running riot. Beware, lovers of edible green plants – broccoli takes an absolute hiding throughout the film. Didn't we all scrunch up our faces in disgust at various things as a kid like that? No wonder Jamie Oliver faced such a battle to persuade children to eat healthily. It was that Disgust emotion in our heads taking control all along.
The colourful cerebral cityscape inside Riley's mind is a feast for the eyes. It's not mere decoration though, as everything seems to have a narrative purpose, with key areas representing various aspects of Riley's life and memories. It's rather poignant when the mind has to dispose of certain recollections though, as they're lost like tears in the rain.
Amy Poehler and the rest of the cast's wonderful work keep the movie buoyant and joyous even when some of the 'emotion' characters threaten to become monotonous. That's hardly something to complain about though, given they have to be largely one-note to fulfil their purpose. Yet the script and voice performances infuse them with enough depth of personality to make us care. Interestingly, it's the humans they control whose fate we're not so invested in.
Inside Out is consistently inventive and engaging look at childhood behavioural mechanisms that's perfect for the entire family, all of whom will connect with the material in different ways. Full of smiles and tears, much like childhood itself, Inside Out ticks so many boxes without ever feeling contrived.
Right now this one has the lead for the Oscar for Best Animated Film but let's see what the rest of the year brings us. On a scale of one to ten, Inside Out gets a 9.5.