As any parent knows, young children often seem like a battleground for conflicting emotions. The brilliant idea behind Pixar director Pete Docter's follow-up to the Oscar-winning Up is to characterise these emotions as distinct entities. In Inside Out, they co-exist inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. Like all Pixar films, it's a colourful, imaginative and hugely enjoyable fun ride for audiences of all ages. But the film also raises plenty of topics for families to talk about afterwards.
The emotions that shape us
Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) are the emotions running 'Headquarters' of Riley's mind, where all her thoughts and feelings are formed. But what are their individual roles? Are they all really necessary? Why must we have Sadness in our lives? Why can't we be happy all the time?
What makes us human?
In the film's beautiful opening scene, we witness the birth of consciousness. Newborn Riley is cradled in her adoring parents' arms. Somewhere, Joy emerges. Baby Riley's eyes light up and she starts to giggle. Her life is just beginning.
Dealing with change
There's a lot going on in young Riley's life. Her family is moving from Minnesota to San Francisco. That means new surroundings, new experiences and new friends. This can be traumatic for young children. And it leads to Joy and Sadness being ejected from Headquarters during her first day at school. Now Fear, Anger and Disgust are in charge of shaping her islands of personality, with dramatic consequences.
The importance of memory
At one point in the film, Joy keeps Riley's spirits up by replaying happy memories. But how are memories formed and stored? Inside Out presents a beautiful, elegant depiction.
The amazing complexity of the human mind
With Riley's mind thrown out of balance, Joy and Sadness have to find their way back to Headquarters through her mind's recesses. This fantastic voyage of discovery takes them through the vivid realms of imagination, long-term memory, abstract thought, dream production and the dark, mysterious caves of the subconscious.
Get happy and book yourself a ticket to see Inside Out at Cineworld from 24 July.