Inside Out, which opened June 19, 2015, was a box-office and critical success for Disney/Pixar. It would gross $856.1 million and would be the 10th highest-grossing animated film of all time. The story is features of the emotions of 11-year old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) as she moves with her mom and dad (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) from her home in Minnesota to San Francisco. The story opens with Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) as Riley’s first and primary emotion on the day she is born. Joy then introduces the other Emotions: Fear (voiced by comedian Bill Hader) who is “really good at keeping Riley safe,” Disgust (voiced by comedienne Mindy Kaling) who keeps “Riley from being poisoned physically and socially,” and Anger (voiced by comedian Lewis Black), who “cares very deeply about things being fair.” Then there is Sadness (voiced by Phyillis Smith), who Joy isn’t sure what she does or what role she could possibly play for a happy girl like Riley. From a console in headquarters in inside Riley’s mind, Joy and the other emotions help Riley interact with the world. From my first viewing, I loved this film. I will discuss my top three reasons for enjoying and recommending this film.
First, Inside Out gives us a story in which we can see the value of all our emotions. With joy, we can enjoy fun and celebrate great times in our lives. In the movie, Joy is very determined to keep Riley happy that she forgets that Riley’s other emotions are important too. Joy tries to get all the Emotions to see the bright side of the situations. They try but it doesn’t work as they all have different perspectives. With Anger, we can see the injustice and unfairness in life. To use anger as a push to fix the injustice we encounter. With Disgust, we can form our opinions and our standards with food, friends and other aspects of our likes and dislikes. With Fear, we can keep ourselves safe and secure debating new adventures, weighing the risks and rewards before trying new things. And with Sadness, we can feel pain and grief. Each emotion is important and deserves to be felt at the moment. While some of the emotions can be felt in extremes, when the emotions are in balance, an individual can be happy, passionate, opinionated, adventurous and sympathetic. Each emotion is a critical part of our personality, who we are as individuals. When we ignore one or more emotions, we deny ourselves a part of who we are.
Second, Inside Out explores the mind, memories and other brain functions in a fun and meaningful manner. In the central story, Joy and Sadness, with the Cord Memories, are whisked away from headquarters and land in Long-Term Memory where all her other memories are stored. Joy and Sadness must get the Core Memories back to headquarters. Core Memories were created at key moments of Riley’s life and help power various parts of Riley’s personality such as friendship, family, and honesty. While they make their way back, they meet up with Bing Bong (voiced by comedian Richard Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend who has wandered Riley’s memories as she no longer plays with him. Bing Bong helps them navigate through Riley’s mind. They pass through Imagination Land, Preschool World, Abstract Thought and Dream Production. Bing Bong points out Critical Thinking, Language Reasoning, Inductive Reasoning and Déjà vu areas of Riley’s mind. I know these are concepts and areas in which the children in the audience will not fully understand but as they watch the movie. I think it’s great to introduce these ideas in a fun way that the audience can understand without getting too technical.
Third, Sadness is a crucial emotion to a valuable life. The film features Sadness in a manner which teaches Joy a valuable lesson. Joy, in her passion to keep Riley happy, she pushes aside what she doesn’t understand, mainly Sadness. Sadness helps Bing Bong through his sadness that Riley no longer needs him by talking with him about their adventures together. Sadness realizes the best way to wake Riley up suddenly is to scare her. At the lowest point of the movie, Joy realizes that many of Riley’s memories are a mixture of emotions. Events which started out sad lead to happiness with the help of her parents and her friends. Events which started with anger turned to happiness and so on. At one point in the movie, Riley gets the idea to run away back to Minnesota and it is Sadness who is able to change Riley’s mind and realize what she is doing. Riley goes home to her parents where she confesses that she cannot be happy like they want her to be. She misses her home, her friends and she is sad. Riley’s parents confess that they miss Minnesota too and the family hugs. Sadness brings Joy to the console and together they create a memory which is filled with both sadness and joy.
The film ends as Riley grows. A new expanded console is in place where each emotion now has an important seat. New aspects of Riley’s personality are formed: Tragic Vampire Romance, Fashion and Boy Band to name a few. After watching the behind the scenes documentaries, I find that the director and writers view the movie as growing up and learning to deal with the changes that are inevitable in life. The movie also features emotions as keys to relationships. Emotions link us to others. Through tears, anger, fear and joy, we experience life with those around us. We bond with people to form families and friendships based on the experiences of these emotions. I understand their view that life isn’t about just being happy. Joy isn’t always the answer. Sometimes Sadness is the answer and we can learn joy from sadness. I love Inside Out for its ability to tackle the complexity of human emotions in a fun adventure. I’ve read reviews where people didn’t like the movie simply because Sadness is the hero and think that the writers want everyone to be depressed. To those reviewers, you missed the whole point of the movie. Without sadness, we cannot know joy. Without tears, we cannot know laughter. I highly recommend Inside Out to young and old. We all can learn from this movie.