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By Dustin Heller

(June 19, 2015) — Inside Out is the latest animated film from Pixar Studios, the people responsible for classic animated films such as the Toy Story Trilogy, Monsters Inc., Cars, The Incredibles, Up, Ratatouille, and WALL-E to name a few.  The film is directed and co-written by Pete Docter, the creator of Monsters Inc. and Up.  The voice cast of the film features Amy PoehlerPhyllis SmithBill HaderLewis BlackMindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane LaneKyle MacLachlan and John RatzenbergerInside Out had its world premiere at the this year’s Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2015, and is set to open in the U.S. on June 19.

Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else.

When Riley’s family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.

It looks like Pixar has broken out of their mini-slump with Inside Out after lackluster efforts in Cars 2, Brave, and Monsters UniversityInside Out has so much going for it; it’s fun, heartwarming, intelligent, and beautiful to look at.  One thing Pixar has really done well over the years is to not only entertain the kids, but make their films enjoyable for the parents as well.

The story, which is based on an original idea by Pete Docter, is very creative and relatable to almost every human being.  The film manages to animate the human conscience in a genuine and meaningful way all while making us laugh and occasionally cry.

To go along with this exceptional storytelling, the animation is absolutely gorgeous and vibrant. The perfectly cast voice talent is spot-on, and Amy Poehler who plays against type is truly excellent.  I know it’s early in the year, but Inside Out is going to be tough competition for the Best Animated Film Oscar at next year’s Academy Awards.  Not only does Inside Out make for a great time at the movies for the entire family, but it also moves Pixar back to the top of the animation mountain.

Grade:  B+

Inside Out opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, June 19

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