Inside Out is about a "typical" girl who has a "typical" emotional response to moving from the place she spent all 11 of her childhood years to somewhere new. We learn about her from the "cocktail" of emotional functionaries inside of her brain. In the scene below we actually get to meet the emotional functionaries in her parents' brains as well.
Here are Riley's "controllers" for (in order) Disgust, Anger, Joy, Sadness, and Fear:
Here are Riley's father's "controllers" for (in order) Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust:
Here are Riley's mother's "controllers: for (in order) Fear, Joy, Sadness, Anger, and Disgust:
The marketing people for the film use the zany characters in Riley's head to attract children to the movie, but it seems that the real point of the film (which shows on four screens in our local mini-multiplex) is to help teach parents about what may be going on in the mind of their 11-year-old child during times of stress. It might also give teenagers a sense about how their minds might work, though from the response of the teenagers who shared the theater with us yesterday, I doubt it will have much of an impact. Clearly the target audience here is precocious little kids, 11-year-olds, and adults.
Michael went to the movie reluctantly, and he loved it. I can't stop thinking about it. (I didn't lose sleep over it, but now I have an enhanced understanding about how sleep works.)
Riley's controllers are male and female. Anger and fear are male; Joy, Sadness, and Disgust are all female. They are also all different shapes and sizes. Her father's mustachioed controllers are all male, except for Joy, which looks a lot like Riley's Joy. They are all pretty much the same size, except for Fear. The mother's controllers are also the same size (except for fear), and they bear a distinct family resemblance to Riley's controllers. Her controllers are concerned about Reily, and her husband's controllers are thinking about watching a soccer game.
Inside Riley's control room there would, of course, be many more emotions than the ones given roles here, but these five serve as an excellent cast, with Joy and Sadness in the leading roles. There are also other functionary characters we meet along the way, and we get to spend some time with her imaginary friend. Riley has "islands" of memory (memory palaces, if you will) like family, honesty, goofiness, and hockey. We all have our own personal islands of memory. I suppose the longer we are alive and the more memories we make, the more populated the sea of islands. If we grown-ups have continents in addition to islands, my map would have a whole continent for Bach.
My recommendation? See the movie. Watch the trailer.