We have Pixar to thank for capturing so many youth lessons, don’t we? Seeing the good in monsters, and being your own superhero, and learning to, well, love. For every heartwarming message delivered by Woody or Sulley or Nemo, though, there’s also an underlying impression of sadness that never goes unnoticed. Toy Story 3’s tearful conclusion, and the entire opening scene of Up—but that’s the whole catch with Pixar movies. They really do, as noted by Vulture, “help children understand that sadness is a part of life.”
The notion is no exception for Pixar’s 15th film in its tribe Inside Out, which debuted at Cannes Film Festival on Monday. It takes place inside the mind of Riley, an 11 year-old girl, with five primary emotions struggling for control of her brain. Local breeds Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling voice the characters of Joy (Poehler) and Disgust (Kaling), joined by Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Anger (Lewis Black).
Poehler’s Joy is the leading character desperately trying to steer Riley’s psyche away from the burdensome emotions—therefore, quite literally addressing Pixar’s ever-present theme.
Kaling and Poehler each admitted at the screening that they were rather emotional during the production stages. “I remember Pete [Docter, director] saying, ‘I think you’re just going to cry all day today,'” Poehler said told the press at Cannes. “And I was like, yes!”
Kaling added, “It was the first time I was meeting [Docter and Del Carmen] and they were showing me the story and I started weeping. I think what moved me about it is that it gives voice to a demographic that is not often given voice to.”
Producer Jonas Rivera told the Toronto Star that he’ll never forget Kaling’s reaction when she read the script: “She started to tear up as we were pitching her, and we said, ‘Are you OK?’ And she said, ‘Just the fact that you’re making a movie that tells little girls it’s hard to grow up and it’s OK to be sad about things, it’s really profound.'”
Following the debut screening, Inside Out’s reception was—even amongst Holocaust dramas, lesbian romance films, and a trippy Matthew McConaughey flick—“probably double the loudest applause of any other film at the festival,” according to USA Today. Indeed.
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