Adventure explores inside the mind

Still Handout from Inside Out  PA/Disney-Pixar
Still Handout from Inside Out PA/Disney-Pixar

INSIDE OUT (U, 102 mins) Animation/Comedy/Drama. Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind, John Ratzenberger. Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen.

Despite gargantuan advances in medical science, we still don’t fully understand the complexities of the human brain: its ability to process vast quantities of information, solve problems and store memories at speeds that put supercomputers to shame.

Pixar Animation Studios, the wizards who conjured the Toy Story trilogy, contemplate the vagaries of neuropsychology with this visually stunning and emotionally rich comedy, which unfolds predominantly inside the head of a little girl.

This high-brow concept doesn’t seem like the most accessible subject matter for a family-oriented computer animation.

But directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen elegantly tilt their film at the windmills of the mind and deliver a hilarious, heartfelt and ultimately life-affirming adventure that celebrates childhood innocence, family unity and the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity.

Laughter and tears abound, as well as cute visual gags, ensuring parents will be repeatedly dabbing their eyes while children whoop and gurgle with glee at the slapstick and rollicking action sequences.

A mother (voiced by Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) welcome a baby girl called Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) into the world.

From the moment she opens her eyes, Riley’s mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - golden Joy (Amy Poehler), blue Sadness (Phyllis Smith), purple Fear (Bill Hader), red Anger (Lewis Black) and green Disgust (Mindy Kaling) - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers.

Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley’s memories, which are stored as glowing orbs, tinged with the colour of the emotion that prevailed at the time. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore.

Inside Out is Pixar’s best film since the holy animated trilogy of WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3.

Docter’s script, co-written by Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, glisters with imagination, wit and invention, delivering guffaws with detours into the heads of Riley’s parents as they attempt to deal with her pre-teenage rebellion. Vocal performances are note perfect, led by Poehler’s exuberant portrayal of Joy and Smith’s sincere embodiment of Sadness, who tugs heartstrings as the film reaches its exquisite conclusion.

Joy and Sadness shared blissful control of my mind throughout.

RATING: 10/10