If you haven’t noticed, Pixar has yet to create a female-centric movie that doesn’t involve princesses. As much as I love Brave, the first Pixar story with a female protagonist, I want to see a regular girl doing amazing things, and leading the way. Many male-driven films have proven that you don’t have to be royalty to take on an adventure or set out on a personal odyssey. I’ve heard the sorry excuse, “well, people don’t want to watch a movie about a girl,” but the success of Brave (as well as Frozen and Tangled) have paved the way for change. We’ve wanted another female-driven Pixar film—particularly one about a regular girl—for some time now, and it seems like we’ll be getting our wish.
Inside Out, Pixar’s newest venture for next year, is not at all about a princess. It’s about a girl named Riley, although from what I’ve read, Riley is more than just a singular character. Her alter-egos play more pronounced roles. Joy (who will be voiced by Amy Poehler!) is Riley’s happy, positive self. She’s also got Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). All emotions function together as a team to help lead Riley through the growing stages of life.
At first, Joy is the dominant voice in Riley’s head, but that all changes. As they say, you can’t stay a kid forever. You start getting zits. Your body becomes more and more alien. Your parents are no longer friendly giants, but antagonists who have the power to ground you if your report card is less than spectacular. Inside Out follows that psychological shift as Joy’s role in Riley’s life is suddenly usurped by Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. This band of negativity transforms Riley into an angsty, moody tween, and it’s up to Joy to find a way to compromise with all four emotions so Riley can be rescued from herself.
What’s so incredible about this movie, is that it’s about a young girl who faces internal struggles many of us are too familiar with. There’s no man saving her here, and she doesn’t have the classic sidekick. She solely has herself (well, parts of herself). I know when I was thirteen, I didn’t have anyone to ask, “why am I feeling so frustrated all the time, or so inexplicably sad?” I had to figure it out on my own, and I think many of us have had to do the same. This movie could serve as a guide for all those kids going through the emotional rip-tides of adolescence.