When Pixar announced Inside Out, a film mostly taking place inside a kid's head, it sounded insane but promising in that it's something that hadn't been done before and it had the potential to be the animation studio's most affecting film since Up.
The film's big concept is explained to us little by little as we see young Riley's early years develop from a single emotion, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), to several including Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). When Riley and her parents move to San Francisco, this jumbles up her emotions to the point where Joy and Sadness find themselves out of the loop completely. The film follows the latter two as they desperately try to get back into Riley's head through any means possible.
This is arguably the most surreal Pixar adventure since Monsters Inc., which was also directed by Pete Docter, and the gimmicky concept once again doesn't distract from the actual story which hooks you in from the get-go. The world of the mind the film creates is so fascinating you buy it instantly and all the characters are so likeable you'll fear for their well-being whenever danger nears. This is a colourful, intricate, alien yet familiar setting we're thrown into here and it's one that's constantly bursting with creativity, always surprising us with new, brilliantly put together ideas. Being a Pixar film it also looks great, obviously, and has some genuinely moving moments.
Also look out for a show-stealing Richard Kind as imaginary friend Bing Bong, who is part elephant, part cat, part... dolphin.
To say that Inside Out is one of the smartest, most original, bittersweet coming-of-age stories out there should be an overstatement but it isn't. It also happens to be one of Pixar's very best. Missing it would definitely be a mistake.