For Part 2 of my series of guest reviews written by students at Vashon Island High School, I present a review of Inside Out written by Callan Foster.

Thanks to English teacher Steven Denlinger, I was a guest teacher for three days in journalism and science fiction classes, and we focused on the art of writing film reviews. It’s an honor to share some of the best reviews that came out of our short time together.

Our memories, emotions and deepest fears: these are the things that make us… us. These are the things that drive us, that make us unique and set us apart. The movie Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter, is a movie about an eleven year old girl named Riley, who is forced to move from comfortable Minnesota to the big scary city of San Francisco. The story is centered around her misadventures in this new city and all the emotions that come along with that.

Except there is one thing out of the ordinary: the emotions she experiences are personified as little creatures living inside of her head.

A little weird, right? But brilliantly done.

Within one movie, we — the audience — are shown two worlds. We have the “human” world, where Riley and her family live where things are more realistic. We then have the “emotion” world inside Riley’s head, where the illustrations are exaggerated, the characters more fictitious, and the surroundings magical and mystical.

In Riley’s head there exist 5 emotions: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Anger (Lewis Black). Each emotion has a specific function and performs a specific task for Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). Joy makes Riley happy, Disgust “keeps [Riley] from getting poisoned”, Fear keeps Riley safe, and Anger keeps things fair… But what of Sadness? That’s the question the movie comes to answer as the story unfolds, a concept that, despite being very complex for such a young target audience, is beautifully portrayed in a way that is accessible for all age groups.

The animation within the movie was creative yet not distracting, with the emotion characters having physical traits that accurately portray the emotion they represent. For example Joy has a sparking glow dancing around her, Anger has fiery hair, Sadness is droopy, Disgust has an ever present sneer, and Fear is skinny and timid. It was an excellent creative decision to draw the characters this way, one that made the movie come to life on a whole other level.

Out of the emotions, Joy is the leader. Most of Riley’s memories are happy. Joy is the first of Riley’s emotions, and she is the one that all the other emotion characters turn to when they don’t know what to do. So naturally, when Riley’s parents decide that they were going to move, everyone turns to Joy too keep things on track. However, things go awry when Sadness touches some important memories. Now Sadness and Joy must leave headquarters and travel into the unknown and confusing maze that is Riley’s long term memory. There, they meet long lost friends, listen to commercials, get chased by a clown, and try their hardest to get back to headquarters before something bad happens to Riley.

While the movie is clever and extremely well-paced I felt that the one thing that the movie is weak on is the conclusion. It is like everything the entire movie built up to, every chase and fall and narrow escape, is resolved by understanding and a hug? A bit anti-climatic if you ask me. While the idea of ‘familial love solving all’ is good, I’m not entirely sure about how well a 3-minute wrap up for a 90-minute movie functions.

That being said, something that really stood out about this film is that, even though it is animated and marketed to children, the characters are really well developed, with all of them undergoing some sort of personal transformation, especially Joy. Joy, through her troubles and trials, must come to terms with the fact that Sadness does have a purpose and a function despite all the havoc she causes: without Sadness, there can be no mourning, recovering, or empathy. And without that, there can be no happiness.

So, if you think you are strong-willed enough to not cry at some point during this film, you are sorely mistaken. Just accept your fate, grab some tissues and the ones you love, and enjoy this hilarious, well-paced film that is great for all ages and bound to be remembered as a classic.  

Callan Foster is a senior at Vashon Island High School. She loves dogs and hopes to one day be an English teacher.