Pixar's new animated film is a clever, one-of-a-kind, fantastic adventure.
Directed by Pete Docter (Up) and co-written by Meg LeFauve, it centers around Riley (voice by Kaitlyn Dias), a happy 11- year old living in Minnesota with her parents. She has a best friend, loves to play hockey and has a great mom and dad.
The film is set inside Riley's mind where each of her emotions is depicted by a different character. Joy (Amy Poehler) is a peppy, blue-haired girl, Fear (Bill Hader) is skinny and purple, Disgust (Mindy Kaling) is a sassy green girl, Anger (Louis Black) is short, bright red with a flat head who enjoys blowing his stack and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) dissolves into a pile on the floor whenever she's too sad to handle a situation. Joy and Sadness are the more prominent ones because kids experience those feelings the most in their everyday lives. The actor's voices are spot on and really bring each character to life.
Riley starts out happy and well adjusted, until her dad moves the family to San Francisco for his work. She loses her best friend, feels lonely at her new school and has lost interest in joining a hockey team. Sadness takes over a bigger role in her life and the characters try everything in order to give her balanced emotions again.
The characters are situated in a large, modern warehouse in Riley's head. Surrounding them are stacks of clear tubes encasing different colored large marble-like orbs with corresponding colors for each emotion. They contain Riley's core memories and dreams. Everything had been working like clockwork, until more and more orbs begin to take on the color of sadness, and no matter how hard Joy tries to alter the on-coming disaster, its an uphill battle. There's also "islands" that seem to be floating in mid-air in Riley's head that represent her interests, like hockey, family and friends, and one by one they begin to disintegrate, so Joy and Sadness join forces to change the outcome.
What might sound like a downer of a movie, is actually quite fun. Amy Poehler's Joy is especially playful and exuberant, and the rest of the characters bring a giggle. A large clown made out of cotton candy named Bing-Bong who had once been Riley's imaginary friend, is also fun. Riley and her mom and dad are portrayed as a very loving family and even though Riley is having difficulty coping with her extreme sadness, you know that they will once again be okay before the film ends.
Pixar has an instant classic on its hands. Everyone will enjoy the music, the fun characters and the colorful, imaginative settings, however I believe kids who are older than nine or ten will have a better understanding of the story-line. This inventive stunner is a film that adults can enjoy over and over again with or without the kids, but considering the amount of laughing in the theater, you better bring them along.