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Inside Out

Inside Out Plot

In the mind of a young girl named Riley are a series of personified basic emotions that influence her actions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Riley’s experiences become memories that are stored as colored orbs and are sent into long-term memory each night. The aspects of the five most-important “core memories” within her personality take the form of five floating islands. Joy acts as the leader; because she perceives Sadness as an unnecessary burden for Riley, Joy also works to limit Sadness’s influence.

At the age of 11, Riley moves from Minnesota to San Francisco for her father’s new job. At first, she has poor experiences: the new house is cramped and old; her father hardly has any time for Riley; a local pizza parlor only serves pizza topped with broccoli, which she dislikes; and the moving van with their belongings was misdirected to Texas and will not arrive for weeks. On Riley’s first day at her new school, Sadness retroactively saddens joyous memories, causing Riley to cry in front of her class and creating a sad core memory. Joy tries to dispose of this memory using a pneumatic tube but accidentally knocks loose the other core memories during a struggle with Sadness, disabling the personality islands. Joy, Sadness, and the core memories are sucked out of Headquarters.

In the absence of Joy and Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust are forced to take control of Riley; they try to make happy core memories but the results are disastrous, distancing Riley from her parents, peers, and hobbies. Without the core memories, Riley’s personality islands gradually crumble and fall into the “Memory Dump”, where things fade to non-existence as they are forgotten. Anger, intending to restore Riley’s happiness, convinces Disgust and Fear that Riley should run away to Minnesota. While navigating the vast long-term memory area, Joy and Sadness encounter Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, who suggests riding the “train of thought” back to Headquarters. After several adventures and mishaps, the trio catch the train but it halts when Riley falls asleep then entirely derails when another island collapses. Joy, who is afraid all of the core memories will become sad, abandons Sadness and tries to ride a “recall tube” back to Headquarters. The ground below the tube collapses, breaking it and plunging Joy and Bing Bong into the Memory Dump. After discovering a sad memory that turned happy when Riley’s parents and friends comforted her, Joy finally understands Sadness’s purpose in alerting others when Riley is emotionally overwhelmed and needs help. Joy and Bing Bong try to use Bing Bong’s song-fueled wagon rocket to escape the Memory Dump. They fail to fully ascend due to their combined weight until Bing Bong sacrifices himself to save Joy by jumping out at the last moment.

Joy reunites with Sadness and they return to Headquarters, where they discover Anger’s idea has disabled the console, putting Riley into depression as she boards a bus to Minnesota. To the surprise of the others, Joy hands control of the console to Sadness, who is able to reactivate it and prompt Riley to return to her parents. As Sadness re-installs the core memories, transforming them from happy to sad, Riley tearfully tells her parents she misses her old life. Riley’s parents comfort her and tell her they also miss Minnesota. Joy and Sadness work the console together, creating a new core memory that is both happy and sad, and a new island forms, representing Riley’s acceptance of her new life in San Francisco. A year later, Riley, now aged 12, has adapted to her new home, made new friends, and returned to her old hobbies and has acquired new ones. Inside Headquarters, Riley’s emotions admire her new personality islands and are given a newly-expanded console that has enough room for all of them to work together.

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