- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2015

Pixar flexed its creative might earlier this year to deliver one of the more complex and heart-tugging animated films of the company’s celebrated existence.

Inside Out (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG, $39.99) arrives on Blu-ray and gives families a wonderful adventure tied to the life of a young girl named Riley and her engaged emotions.

Director Peter Docter and a dedicated crew of digital artisans bring Riley’s Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black) to life as caricatures that advise the tween while living in her mind’s control center (headquarters).

Suffice to report, that set-up leads to some humorous and dramatic action especially when a mishap causes Riley’s core memories (displayed as multicolored orbs) to nearly disappear.

The near catastrophe sends Joy and Sadness on a journey in Riley’s compartmentalized mind to retrieve the precious orbs. With help from Bing Bong (Riley’s imaginary friend), the group visits the girl’s abstract thoughts, imagination, dream productions (a Hollywood-like studio) and dingy memory dump to collect the precious cargo and attempt to return to headquarters.

Watching the screen filling (1.78:1) digital transfer offers stunning reproduction of the near 3-D looking, 95-minute effort that took four years to fully realize.

The beautiful contrast between the human character animations and the more exaggerated emotion characters are eye-popping with obvious painstaking detail found in the clothing textures, hair and skin types. Joy is especially stunning as a glowing, sprite-like bundle of energy, literally crackling around her body edges.

For as much as the film delivers humorous moments, “Inside Out” is also a bit of a tearjerker, due to its exploration of sadness and the parent-and-child bond.

As a parent, it was hard not to fondly reflect upon my child’s early life while watching Riley’s world shaped by so many emotions tied to pivotal memories.

Disney offers a generous supply of bonus content to examine the production, so much so that it spills over into a second Blu-ray disk.

An excellent optional commentary track with Mr. Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen leads the way — focusing extensively on history of the project, the invisible story elements of the overall production and the cinematography of animation with extra words from Patrick Lin director of camera photography.

Another roughly 60 minutes of featurettes follow. Best of the bunch includes 11 minutes of interviews with some of the females involved in the project, including production manager Dana Murray, writer Meg Lefauve, director of light photography Kim White, and the two voice leads Miss Poehler and Miss Smith reflecting on the film and childhood.

The extras continue with 14 minutes of fully animated studies of the emotions (and Bing Bong) interacting with objects and each other spotlighted by Riley reacting to her world.

Also, Mr. Docter pops back in to explain 15 minutes of black-and-white, storyboarded deleted scenes.

Finally, Disney also tosses in two animated shorts — “Lava” about a lonely volcano who loves to sing about it; and the hilarious “Riley’s First Date” featuring the original voice cast (a emotional look at how a daughter’s dad reacts to a young suitor).

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