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Inside Out (3D)


Stars: Voices: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle Maclachlan

Director: Pete Docter

Looking back to my long-ago stint as a medical student, probably the most chilling thing I came across in a slew of human dissection and largely bizarre information was the phrase “The brain, unfixed, has the consistency of soft porridge”.

I didn’t dare turn or shake my head for days.

But now, happily, thanks to another doctor, Pete Docter (his spelling, not mine) who co-directed, co-wrote and was jointly responsible (with Ronaldo Del Carmen) for this extraordinary animated fable, I can move my head with impunity.

It turns out brains are not porridge. Instead, as Pixar perfectly proves, the control centre inside the brain of 11-year-old Riley (and, by definition, lurking in all our skulls) is operated by five Emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – whose mission, and they have accepted it – is to ensure Riley stays happy.

Which turns out to be quite a problem when Riley’s family relocate from their idyllic life in the Midwest to San Francisco and the Emotions face the difficult task of helping the youngster adapt to her new life with Joy battling to keep Riley happy despite everything…

Happily, for all the semi-Freudian undertone on offer, Inside Out finally emerges as joyous family entertainment decorated with attractive animation, perfectly cast characters and, of course, a happy ending. Subtext-addicted reviewers will have a ball and they’re welcome. More importantly, however, thanks to Pixar’s accurately aimed animation, ideally cast voices and, above all, a splendid story splendidly told, the film is one of those very rare and genuine family films certain to entertain youngsters and accompanying adult too.

(With two wonderful daughters myself, I finally realise what was going on in their heads while my hair turned grey as they grew up – my belated thanks to the Emotions that drive them and, quite often, also drove me mad).

Vocal casting is spot one - Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) couldn’t be better. Kyle Maclachlan and Diane Lane do all that’s required of them as Riley’s parents and Kaitlin Dias scores as Riley.

It’s just what the Docter ordered. And I’m nodding my head vigorously as I say that.

Pixar at its finest: carry on, Docter

(PS: If you’re an accompanying adult, the perfect time to head for the lobby for food or to the toilet is while Pixar’s accompanying short Lava is on the screen. Delightful animation does nothing to reduce the hyperglycemic twee-ness of the seriously soppy story of a lonely volcano seeking another lava-spewing hothead to love. Thank heavens I always carry an insulin injector to protect me from such horrors).

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 01 Aug 2015