Whereas Pixar’s robot romance WALL-E went adventuring out into space, the studio’s next big feature Inside Out is all about going (you guessed it) inside. Specifically, inside the head of unhappy preteen Riley, where a quintet of emotions watch her life unfold from behind a control panel and dictate her interactions with the world around her. Joy (Amy Poehler) is the hyper, ever-cheery ringleader who provides some balance to the rather negative collection of emotions around her: Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).
The most recent trailer for Inside Out generated a mix of hype, intrigue and debate over the portrayal of Riley’s parents and their own inner emotions (which have the same basic model as Riley’s, albeit with the occasional gender-flip). Riley’s mom and dad and are voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan, respectively, while Riley is voiced by newcomer Kaitlyn Dias.
Speaking to EW, co-director Pete Docter said that Riley’s emotions are like “our own version of the Seven Dwarfs,” and Docter also told Empire that the film is one of the most challenging films that he’s ever worked on since it features two stories – one inside Riley’s head and one outside it – that run concurrently. Docter has been with Pixar for a long time and has writing and directing credits on Up and Monsters Inc. The script for Inside Out was penned by Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt.
The second trailer for Inside Out established that the emotions have the ability to play back and watch memories on a mental projector, as seen in the second image, and Riley may need to call on some happy memories as she tries to navigate life after moving to San Francisco. Between the challenges of a new house, new city and new school and the growing pains that come with the early days of puberty, her emotions are probably in for a rough ride.
Check out these new stills from Inside Out, courtesy of EW and Empire.
Putting concerns about its potential over-reliance on gender stereotypes aside for the moment, Inside Out definitely looks like one of the most promising animated films set for release in 2015. It might be family entertainment, but anthropomorphizing emotions is a fascinating way to look at psychology, particularly the psychology of the growing mind, and every new detail about Inside Out opens up new questions.
It’s not the first time that this particular idea has been explored before – for other examples, check out UK comic strip The Numskulls and early ’90s sitcom Herman’s Head – but it will definitely be interesting to see Pixar’s take on it.
Inside Out opens in U.S. theaters on June 19th, 2015.