Pixar’s latest, “Inside Out,” is its greatest


Kyle Arensdorf

By Kyle Arensdorf

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Pixar has made 15 films in its 20 years of operation, but none has been better than “Inside Out.”

Pixar has caught flak in recent years from those claiming its films have too much of a Disney feel to them (“Brave”) and some unfair flak from those preferring not to see another sequel (“Monster’s University”).

But the production company that brought you the “Toy Story” franchise and “Wall-E” returned to its winning ways with this lens into a little girl’s brain.

Pete Docter, who’s directed some of Pixar’s most successful chapters (“Monster’s Inc” and “Up”), came up with the idea for “Inside Out” as a way to cope with and understand his own daughter’s emotional roller coaster.

The film begins, obviously, in the mind of Riley — the film’s protagonist — at the moment she’s born.

It’s there we meet Joy, Riley’s happy emotion, who’s just beamed online as well.

She finds a button in front of a large screen (through Riley’s eyes) in the center of a dark room.

She presses it curiously, and baby Riley giggles. And in pops a small, bright orb —Riley’s first memory.

Joy is alone in Riley’s brain for a while. But as Riley grows and learns, more emotions accompany Joy in her brain.

First it’s sadness, and when the film jumps forward to when Riley’s a toddler, fear, anger and disgust have joined the party.

Not only has her emotional state grown, but the single button in the center of the room is now a small switchboard of numerous buttons for her emotions to man.

It’s smart ideas like this that boost “Inside Out” to the top of Pixar’s canon. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Docter creates a web inside Riley’s mind that just gets deeper, more intricate and smarter as the film goes on.

And as it does, you’ll wonder how someone could come up with an idea and plot so perfect and explanatory, and how no one has thought of the idea before.

In my mind there are three films that belong in an upper-echelon of Pixar movies – “Finding Nemo,” “Ratatouille” and now “Inside Out.”