Inside Out ★★★★★

Firstly, let me share my excitement for Pixar's triumphant return after a few duds. Inside Out immediately made it into the list of my favorite Pixar films including Toy Story, Wall-E, Ratatouille and Up! These films, over the last 20 (!) years have cemented Pixar as not only a stellar animation studio but one of the best moralist, cultural centers of art in existence today. There are few auteurs working today with as strong a central core and as wide an ambition as Pixar.

Some commentary on Pixar's Inside Out suggests that this movie will forever change the way you think about how people think, or how you think about emotions. Inside Out isn't grand enough to have that lasting of an effect. But while watching it, and maybe for a few hours afterward, you will be kinder to yourself. You'll remember the power of your emotions and you'll give yourself a break for not always being in control of them. That's no small feat for a film to accomplish, and this film does it with aplomb.

Often films whose main conceit is the inner world draw a line between real life and what's going on inside and have a hard time toeing that line. Inside Out not only strikes that balance well, it is enhanced by it. We are perpetually interested in Riley's emotional well being because of what is going on in her real life.

There are times when Inside Out loses its way a bit. Starting with the main idea, the writers set out to unfold a story in chapters. Setting up this scaffolding was a smart structural decision. However, not every chapter in the story achieved the same payoff. With that said, arguably the chapter that matters the most, the ending, did. The turn toward "mixed emotions," was well-earned, properly seeded throughout the story and not done in an over-the-top way. This was the right payoff for the risks the audience was asked to take, and it fit very well in the overall story constructed around the main idea.

Sitting in a theater with toddlers, pre-teens, young-adults and parents was a great way to see this film. Everyone laughed throughout the film, at the same and different parts, for the same and different reasons. The film was preceded (at least at my showing) by a note of thanks from Pete Docter. I'll bookend this review by thanking Docter and his team.