Call it kid-friendly psychology: Pixar's latest begins with a lot of bold (and visually appealing) assumptions: first, that our emotions run the show when it comes to our interior landscape; and second, that those emotions are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. (Whither Envy? Hate? Desire? Best not to ask; most of the film's explorations occur inside the head of relatively undamaged tween girl Riley, and the aforementioned five seem to have things well in hand.) Not that Joy is always joyful or Anger always angry; just that they each take the controls at the appropriate time. But what plucky ringleader Joy (an untrammeled Amy Poehler) doesn't get is why you'd ever want Sadness at the helm — especially when it comes to the formation of core memories, the kind that shape our personalities. So when the family moves from Riley's home in Minnesota to the wilds of San Francisco, Joy kicks into overdrive and tries to put a lockdown on Sadness, who seems to be going haywire. When disaster ensues, Joy and Sadness wind up on a journey through Riley's headspace, trying to sort things out before it's too late. It's not unusual for a film about childhood loss to be this funny while it sets about the work of making you cry; it is unusual for it to be this much fun. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.