Pixar turns family entertainment Inside Out

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      Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black. Rated G.

      Almost everyone else thinks of Disney as favouring cutesy-poo, sometimes surprisingly violent stuff that caters to a family audience like no other movie studio in history. I mean, do we call something “Mickey Mouse” because it’s too damn sophisticated?

      Still, as the studio and its affiliates get more savvy to wider audiences and changing demographics, their attempts at inclusiveness—like depicting people of colour as people of colour—have left some viewers feeling “frightened for their lives” in white America. “Disney/ABC to glorify anti-Christian Bully” screamed the headline of one fundie blog when it learned of a possible sitcom based on the early years of Dan Savage. Others complain that Disney ’toons have too many single parents, betraying an obvious bias towards divorce!

      In any case, Inside Out is so darn family-oriented, it may shut up even some of those pastors Glenn Beck has promised will kill themselves if gay marriage becomes universal. If they live long enough, though, those guys may eventually notice the intelligent subversion behind the new Disney/Pixar flick. For one thing, its story is based almost entirely on the subtleties of human psychology; for another, it’s about what happens inside the head of a preadolescent female. Somebody call the cops!

      Co-directed and -written by Pete Docter (they actually let a woman, Meg LeFauve, in on the screenplay), the film was made by a number of people in on Up, a hallmark of animation at its most emotional. Here, emotion is everything, or at least everything inside the head of 11-year-old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), miffed that her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) have moved her from wholesome, hockey-loving Minnesota to a surprisingly spooky, and oddly empty, San Francisco.

      The change highlights an ongoing argument between the chromatically contrasting voices in her head, led by the previously dominating Joy (Amy Poehler), now increasingly dogged by Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (The Daily Show’s blustering Lewis Black), and, most of all, Sadness (The Office’s Phyllis Smith, a cast standout here). Lately, Sadness has been touching even the happiest marbles in Riley’s memory bank with her tinge of blue. And this triggers Joy’s rear-guard attempt to preserve the kid’s connection to the family unit. See where I’m going with that?

      The ensuing battle will equally enchant children and the Jung at heart, with an increasingly rapid pace and trippy CGI imagery that allow no time for quasi-Broadway songs. There is some intense stuff in the subconscious region, including an imaginary childhood friend (Richard Kind) who’d be at home in the wildest Dr. Seuss adventures.

      That reminds me: where were the parents in The Cat in the Hat?