Inside Out review: A truly mind-blowing Pixar treat
In spite of gargantuan advances in medical science, we still don't fully understand the complexities of the human brain - its ability to process vast quantities of information, solve problems and store memories at speeds that put supercomputers to shame.
Pixar, the wizards who conjured up the Toy Story trilogy, contemplate the vagaries of neuropsychology with this visually stunning and emotionally rich comedy, which unfolds predominantly inside the head of a little girl.
This high-brow concept doesn't seem like the most accessible subject matter for a family-oriented computer animation.
But directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen elegantly tilt their film at the windmills of the mind and deliver a hilarious and heartfelt adventure with much laughter ... and tears.
A mother (voiced by Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) welcome a baby girl called Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) into the world. From the moment she opens her eyes, Riley's mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - golden Joy (Amy Poehler), blue Sadness (Phyllis Smith), purple Fear (Bill Hader), red Anger (Lewis Black) and green Disgust (Mindy Kaling) - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers in Headquarters.
When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco. Following an altercation, sworn rivals Joy and Sadness are expelled from Headquarters and are stranded in the labyrinth of Riley's long-term memories.
Aided by Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Joy and Sadness blaze a haphazard trail on the chugging train of thought back to Fear, Anger and Disgust, who have been left in charge of Headquarters - with disastrous consequences.
Inside Out is Pixar's best since the holy animated trilogy of WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3.