The story begins with the birth of Riley, the little girl in which the story revolves, and the five emotions that help her through life's trials and tribulations. The main cast are composed of Amy Pohler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Bill Hader (Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust) and Lewis Black (Anger).
The story sets up as Riley's father gets a new job, and causes her family move halfway across the country to live in San Francisco. Life appears to be in complete chaos as their new house is in shambles, their belongings are held up by movers and all the while, Riley must start in a new school. Meanwhile, in Riley's head, Joy has her hands full, keeping Riley's emotions in check and keeping an eye on Sadness, who can't help but get in the way.
The story picks up speed when Sadness can't help herself and accidentally causes some turmoil, sending Joy and Sadness on an adventure to try and repair Riley's mental wellbeing and make their way home.
The Pixar team had their work cut out for them on this story. Pete Docter, the director of UP and Monsters Inc, and co writer of the Toy Story films, Monsters Inc, Wall-E and UP took up his most challenging film yet when he agreed to helm this project. The story was in development for over 6 years. With all of the story's complexities, and all of the subtle nuances, this story is one of my favorites to come out of their Emeryville studio so far. They wink and nod to all kinds things we deal with everyday, like deja vu, and how a song gets stuck in your head. The way they handle how dreams and memories work is genuis.
The animation and visuals are breathtaking. The idea of their shapes in character design is described by Pete Docter, "Each emotion is based on a shape. Joy is based on a star, Sadness is a teardrop, Anger is a fire brick, Fear is a raw nerve, and Disgust is broccoli." If you study animation and visuals the way I do, you can't help but notice that the emotions are collections of floating particles. The effect was originally intended for only Joy. It is said that after 8 months of animating the effect on Joy, the crew decided it was too time consuming and too difficult to continue. They decided to reanimate Joy without the effect until John Lasseter saw the footage in dailys and insisted they keep it, and apply it to all five characters. It is breathtaking to behold.
At post time, this film has already pulled in huge Box Office numbers. But if you are considering waiting for it's Blu Ray release this fall, I highly recommend you think twice. This film is beautiful on the big screen. Go see it tonight! I'll be seeing it again before it leaves theaters, for sure!