Cannes Day 6: ‘Inside Out’ provides much-needed laughs (and a few tears)


At a festival known for its serious arthouse fare, it’s great to see something that makes you laugh out loud. And that’s probably why Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out” got such a rapturous response Monday after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

The movie has an imaginative premise: that five emotions reside in our brain and respond to various situations. We get to see the five emotions at work in the mind of a young girl, Riley, as she copes with her family’s sudden move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Joy (Amy Poehler) tries to keep Riley happy by mastering the controls in the brain. But she has to contend with other emotions, mainly Sadness (Phyliss Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black) and Fear (Bill Hader.)

As we begin to see, Anger raises his somewhat nasty head when he senses that fairness has been jeopardized. And Sadness just keeps intruding into places where she’s not wanted. When she touches some of the golden memory balls in the control center, they immediately turn blue and cause Riley to be sad. So Joy has to try to keep the various emotions in check.

There’s a vault for long-term memory. And there’s an Abstract room, as well as an Imagination room. There’s also a funny character called Bing Bong, who tries to help Joy and Sadness get on the Train of Thought back to the Brain Control Center once they get lost and separated from Fear, Anger and Disgust.

But that’s getting a bit ahead of the story.

Much of he humor comes from the unexpected trips into the Brain Control Centers of the mother and father, as well as in other characters.

Like the best Pixar movies, “Inside Out” speaks to adults and their memories of growing up. This one, in particular, takes us through the rather sad process of leaving the familiar behind and facing new challenges, as Riley must do in San Francisco.

It’s a very moving tale, and at the end of Monday’s screening, it’s safe to say that nearly everyone was trying to suppress tears. It didn’t work.

Thankfully, the movie ends on a happy note, and the outtakes following the ending are hilarious, especially when director Pete Docter takes us into the Brain Control Centers of a dog and cat. Any animal lover will get a good laugh.

Author: Charles Ealy

Charles Ealy edits and writes about books and movies for the Ausstin American-Statesman.

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