I saw Inside Out yesterday night, and as expected, it was incredible. It had a noticeably strong sense of story structure; even while watching it, I realized Blake Snyder's beat sheet could easily be applied. Now, I know there's some stigma about the 15-point beat sheet, due to the fact that it's overused and can be formulaic if handled inappropriately. However, I think it's a cool easy way to give a broad look at a story's structure. It honestly wasn't hard to plug Inside Out into the beat sheet, so without further ado, here it is. And obviously...SPOILERS!!!! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
1. Opening Image: Riley is born in Minneapolis, conjuring five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.
2. Theme Stated: Joy takes a disliking to Sadness, not sure why she exists when all she does is make things sad, the opposite of Joy’s mission: keep Riley happy.
3. Set-Up: Upon turning eleven, Riley moves to San Francisco when her father gets a new job. She goes to a new school where she is asked to introduce herself. It starts out fine, but Riley begins tearing up when thinking about her old home, a joyful memory that Sadness accidentally touched, much to Joy’s despair.
4. Catalyst: While struggling with Sadness to prevent Riley from crying, Joy causes both her and Sadness, along with the core memories, to be sucked up the memory tube and out of Headquarters.
5. Debate: The Personality Islands go down. Joy and Sadness try to figure out how to get back to Headquarters. Fear, Anger, and Disgust try to figure out how to replicate the joy in Riley’s life.
6. Break Into Two: Realizing Sadness knows the way back to Headquarters, Joy asks her to lead them back in order to restore Riley’s personality.
7. B Story: Meet Bing-Bong, Riley’s former imaginary friend, who is trying to reconnect with Riley and can help get Joy and Sadness back to Headquarters. They make a plan to ride the Train of Thought back to Headquarters.
8. Fun and Games: Joy, Sadness, and Bing-Bong make their way through the Personality Islands. Throughout this journey, Joy begins to notice Sadness can fix things in ways that seem counterintuitive to Joy’s M.O. (eg Sadness comforts Bing-Bong when he loses his rocket in the abyss).
9. Midpoint: They wake up Riley and restart the Train of Thought.
10. Bad Guys Close In: Anger enacts a “backup plan” that causes Riley to run away back to Minnesota where all her good memories were made. The Train of Thought gets destroyed when Honesty Island crumbles. Joy thinks that can make it back through a memory recall tube, but refuses to let Sadness come in fear that she’ll corrupt the joyful core memories. The tube is also destroyed as Family Island crumbles (Riley boarding the bus back to Minnesota), sending Joy and Bing-Bong into the abyss.
11. All Is Lost: Lost in the abyss, Joy succumbs to tears as she shifts through Riley’s old childhood memories, now forgotten, now fading.
12. Dark Night of the Soul: While watching Riley being consoled by her teammates and parents (a joyful memory), Joy realizes that Sadness had caused this to happen during Riley’s grief of missing a winning shot (a sad memory), which signaled others to come and console her.
13. Break Into Three: Now realizing she needs Sadness, Joy and Bing-Bong attempt to fly out of the abyss with a rocket. Bing-Bong sacrifices himself, realizing that his past with Riley is weighing the rocket down. He cheers as Joy exits the abyss, then fades away.
14. Finale: Joy and Sadness make it back to Headquarters, where Joy lets Sadness take control. Riley returns home to her parents, breaking down in tears while admitting she misses home. Her parents comfort her, making a joyful memory.
15. Resolution: Riley continues to adapt to life in San Francisco. New Personality Islands are built. The entire team of emotions, including Sadness, now work together to guide Riley through her future life.