From the monsters in your closet to the toys scattered all over your floor, Disney•Pixar has brought our childhood staples to life for more than 20 years. They’ve tugged at our heartstrings, made us sob through montages, and sparked eruptions of laughter that left us full of pure joy.

The production studio’s latest endeavor, Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter, awakens the whirlwind of feelings people experience every day through color-coded personified emotions inside 11-year-old Riley’s head.

Inside OutFashion-forward Disgust (Mindy Kaling) is mean and green, with a flippant attitude as fierce as her eyelashes are long. Gruff and tough Anger (Lewis Black) is squat and fiery, with a penchant for explosive behavior. Buzzkill Sadness (Phyllis Smith), somehow makes pessimism seem adorable, and the lean and lanky Fear (Bill Hader) embodies eternal uncertainty. And finally, there’s the commander in chief of this affecting army: Joy (Amy Poehler). A radiantly perky do-gooder who you just can’t help but love, Joy politely micromanages all of the other feelings to ensure Riley stays happy—not always an easy task.

When her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, Riley’s emotions must work to navigate her through her new surroundings. With a new house in desperate need of some tender love and care, a pair of stressed-out parents, and a new school with no friends in sight, Riley’s got a lot to process. And when a traumatic experience (for an 11-year-old, at least) causes the emotions to panic at the controls, Joy and Sadness must embark on a mission to get Riley back to feeling like herself.

Inside Out brings viewers into a technicolor paradise. From towering maze-like walls lined with memories contained in vibrant orbs, to the tucked-away fantasy lands of imagination, Riley’s mind is a stunning and unique world full of whimsy and wonder. Though a far cry from what a doctor would tell you a brain looks like, the islands, worlds, and forgotten lands inside Riley’s head beautifully explain so much of why we think, act, and feel the way we do. From bizarre dreams, to imaginary friends, to the core memories that define a person’s sense of identity, the film speeds through even the deepest depths of the human subconscious, seamlessly linking our day-to-day experiences with our emotions, memories, and personalities.


Disney•Pixar has taught us time and time again that “animated” hardly means “just for kids,” and as usual, Inside Out will please tweens, teens, 20-somethings, parents, and grandparents alike. With smart and creative asides you can giggle at, scenes sparking memories of your own that will have tears pooling in your eyes, and a walloping cast of recognizable comedic talent unlike any I’ve ever seen (or heard) in a single film, Inside Out is absolute perfection.

And there’s plenty to learn, like how emotions are anything but one-dimensional (you know, unless they momentarily get stuck in abstract thought—see the movie, you’ll understand), and no matter how hard you try to stay positive, sometimes you just need to cry, because ultimately, there’s even a little joy in sadness.

Fun and fantasy are at the forefront of the film, with themes of parenting, patience, and persistence woven throughout. But most importantly, it depicts how inherently hard it is to grow up. Though an 11-year-old’s experiences may seem trivial, like an argument born from simple jealousy or a crummy hockey try-out, it’s important to remember how horribly complex it all feels in the moment.

Like all of the great Disney•Pixar films, Inside Out will awaken a familiar sense of nostalgia—especially in adults—reminding us all how terrible, scary, confusing, and absolutely amazing it is to be a kid.