It must have been a hard sell at the pitch meeting. Anthropomorphized emotions in the mind of a little girl on the brink of adolescence react to her family’s traumatic move from Minnesota to San Francisco. That the movie even got made is a triumph for Pixar—which has made a few duds since selling out to Disney—and a return to form for the uniquely innovative studio.
The director is Pete Docter, who made Monsters, Inc. and Up. Mom and Dad are voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan, the little girl by Kaitlyn Dias. The color-coded emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).
The plot is too complex to go into in this space, but don’t dismiss this as a children’s cartoon. This is an emotionally intelligent, surreal, cathartic, and heavily metaphoric take on the fleeting nature of childhood. Compare it to Toy Story 3 or even Boyhood. Never a dull moment.
It’s a movie for the mind, the eye, and the heart. Had this hardened film critic blubbering like a baby. Should you see it? That’s a no-brainer. Japanese title: Inside Head. (94 min)