On the surface, Pixar's incredibly charming story of a girl
adjusting to a move from Minnesota to San Franscico sounds, well, pretty
ordinary. People move all
the time, because of job relocation.
And kids, though uprooted, eventually make the adjustments to
their new reality. And Riley
(Kaitlyn Dias) is no exception.
There's also nothing particularly new about the use of animation,
especially for movies aimed at a children's audience.
However skilled the animation is, the conundrum is always the
same: how much to try to
appeal to the adults who are watching, also, because they brought the
It's difficult to convey, in an essay, how wonderfully creative
this film is. It's engaging
entertainment at a very high level, and family-friendly, as well.
The premise is that Riley is ruled by her inner emotions:
joy, disgust, fear, sadness, and anger.
Joy (Amy Poehler) is the most dominant trait, but she must
constantly manage the other emotions, all of which took their turn in
taking over the control console when Riley was a baby, but now,
everybody has conceded Headquarters operations to Joy.
Each experience is stored in a memory, which is short -term until
Riley falls asleep, then is
moved to long-term storage (and eventually removed in a kind of
“spring cleaning”). The
most signficant people in Riley's life, her Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad
(Kyle MacLachlan) also have their own inner emotions, but really, this
is about what's going on inside Riley.
She's anchored, emotionally, by various “islands” around her
subconscious, including family, her main hobby (hockey), and even a
certain “goofy” mode, where she gives herself permission to just act
silly (like making monkey noises with her parents).
Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is almost always a downer, and sometimes
an impulsive troublemaker. Disgust
(Mindy Kaling) is also the sarcastic humor.
Anger (Lewis Black) is rarely useful, however, it has to just
come out sometimes, as does a random memory of a stupid commerical
jingle about chewing gum.
Are there parts too sad for the little kids?
Well, it was traumatic when Bing Bong, the childhood imaginary
friend, finally fades away into oblivion, but then, Riley's turning into
a teenager now, which also means there's a much bigger console of
The script is lively, the action is energetic, and there's just
so much great insight into human nature, of any age, that the viewers
are are treated to a rare enjoyable event of laughing at themselves.
How much would I receommend it?
Well, let's see, the first time I took only one grandkid, for his
birthday. Maybe the next
time I can take another grandkid, for her birthday.
It's rare that I would want to watch any movie more than once.
But this one I would undoubtedly enjoy all over again.