Inside Out ★★★★★

"Inside Out" is not only the best animated film I’ve seen; it’s also one of the best movies I have seen—period. I can’t think of a single flaw in this film. It’s just that great!

Young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) have to leave Minnesota and move to San Francisco. Conflicts arise between Riley’s emotions—they are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)—and eventually Joy and Sadness, together with the girl’s core memories, are accidentally sucked out of Headquarters and transported to the labyrinth that is Riley’s long-term memories. Now Joy and Sadness have to find their way back to Headquarters, bringing with them the core memories, to restore Riley’s emotional stability.

Pixar’s latest phenomenal explosion of creativity and originality masterfully deals with the flow of emotions, the creation of new memories, and the fading of old memories as an integral part of growing up. "Inside Out" speaks directly to the heart and mind of the viewer, making them reflect on their own emotions, happy and sad memories, and forgotten childhood events.

The movie takes the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Several times did I alternate between laughing out loud and crying in a short amount of time. Co-writer (with Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley)/director Pete Docter and his talented crew, including co-director Ronaldo Del Carmen and film editor Kevin Nolting, find the optimal balance between humor targeted at kids and jokes intended for the adults in the audience. Abstract Thought, Cloudtown, Dreamland Productions, and the Train of Thought are but a few of the inspired and imaginative creations that appear in the movie; the poignant moments, by contrast, are firmly grounded in reality. When the absolutely hilarious montage that plays during the first two minutes of the end credits was over, I felt emotionally exhausted in the best possible way.

It might sound like hyperbole, but "Inside Out" actually says something deep and powerfully relatable about the essence of being human. The film conveys the basics of how the human mind works in a brilliant, easily understandable way. It also cleverly emphasizes the importance of accepting all emotions, both positive and negative, in one’s life.

The most remarkable thing about this awesome gem proves to be its acknowledgment of the complementary, yin-yang nature of happiness and sadness. Happy memories tend to make one sad, whereas sadness is required in order for happiness to be meaningful. Each of these two emotions depends on the other for its own existence. Profound stuff indeed.

As I was watching the movie, I hardly dared to move in my seat lest I break the spell and be returned to the real world. When the film was over, I could have happily watched it again immediately. "Inside Out" left me feeling surprisingly exhilarated, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for quite a while after the end credits had rolled.

The movie comes to life through gorgeous—of course—animation. My advice regarding 2D or 3D: go with 2D, as the 3D effects don’t do much to enhance the experience. Michael Giacchino’s magnificent, often subtle music score adds to the wonderfulness of it all by effectively supporting the emotional beats of the film.

All of the cast members give terrific vocal performances. A special mention goes to Poehler and Smith for their winning voice acting. I must also praise Richard Kind, whose delightful contribution to the movie in the role of Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, ensures the adorableness of his memorable character.

"And the Oscar for best animated feature film goes to … 'Inside Out'!" No surprise there. And very well deserved.