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Movie review | Pixar does it again with ‘Inside Out’

A screen shot from Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out.”
A screen shot from Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out.”

Inside Out *****

Turns out that the joyously feel-good movie of the summer, Pixar’s “Inside Out,” delivers through its Sadness. And its Anger, Disgust and Fear, emotions all played out as neurotic characters inside the brain of tween girl Riley.

When the happy-go-lucky Riley moves with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco, Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, tries her best to keep Sadness, voiced by “The Office’s” Phyllis Smith, at bay. This denial, it turns out, wreaks havoc in Riley’s brain. Core memories get lost, the subconscious threatens, and imagination, friendship and family all are in jeopardy.

Lewis Black as Anger and Bill Hader as Fear deliver most of the funny, but the real star may be Sadness. Phyllis Smith was an inspired choice to voice Sadness and her performance might help all of us understand our own sadness, and learn to embrace it, not deny it.

“Inside Out” may be regarded as Pixar’s best effort ever. From the talents that created “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Finding Nemo,” “Cars” and “Monsters Inc.,” the bar was set high. “Monster’s Inc.,” and “Up” director, Pete Doctor, delivers a movie with as much creativity, heart and soul as any on the big screen in some time.

Thought-provoking and potentially emotional for all ages, “Inside Out,” gives us an inside view and perspective about just what makes us tick; why we’re happy, sad, angry and fearful; and how our memories play a role in it all. As was true with “Toy Story,” adults will be transported back to childhood, and children will delight in the 3D adventure.

What do those stars mean?

* Really, really, really bad. Don’t bother.

** Pretty bad, with one or more redeeming scenes.

*** Pretty good, but maybe not great, worth seeing for most

**** Really great, a winning combination of story, casting, and directing

***** The rarest gem, an all-around perfect motion picture

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