“Inside Out” (2015)
Rated: PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Genre: Animation/ Fantasy/ Comedy
My spoiler-free review:
In “Inside Out” we experience what goes on inside Riley’s head: her thoughts and feelings expressed through different clearly defined and memorable characters, its a movie that may help kids more easily explain their emotions. Some of the concepts may go over the head of the youngest viewers, but even if little kids don’t connect the characters to emotions… its still an entertaining movie that the whole family can enjoy…. I give it 8.5 out of 10 … and can lead to some teachable moments down the road.
The main human emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger are the main characters. They help form memories into different colored globes, then there are more significant memories called core memories… those core memories make up “islands of personality” – different traits that determine who she is (friendship, family, hockey, honesty, etc.). The movie tries to explain why we have memories and thoughts pop in and out of our mind. These are concepts that are pretty easy for an adult understand, but a little more complex for the younger crowd. But Pixar smartly repeats it enough that it should make sense by the end of the movie for most age groups.
Amy Poehler leads the cast as the voice of Joy, Phyllis Smith voices Sadness – the emotional star of the movie, Bill Hader plays Fear keeping Riley out of danger, while Lewis Black is Anger – ready to strike at any time, and Mindy Kaling perfectly plays Disgust – who hates bad fashion and broccoli.
Kids can learn from the main concepts of emotions and memories and how they shape your personality, but they can also learn from the characters themselves: as Joy is always being positive among the other emotions when bad things happen or bad memories are recalled; Sadness causes problems but she can’t help it – unintentionally making more of an impact than Joy and it’s affecting Riley’s overall personality; the other emotions have to take over when joy and sadness are not there to “run” things. We also get glimpses inside the brains of mom dad and others who have similar characteristics with the same five emotions just like Riley – it’s a lesson for kids that they have the same emotions as adults – but there is a constant competition in our heads over which emotion is in charge.
During the adventure we see long term memory, imagination land and dream productions studios, the subconscious and the train of thought which transports things around inside her brain, plus we learn how some memories are forgotten. The movie evoked giggles and “wow” from 10-year-old girl watching the movie with me.
Anger gets some of the funnier lines like “congratulations San Francisco you’ve ruined pizza” or “here comes the mom bad news train pulling in”, but Sadness gets the most impactful line though: “obsessing over the weight of our problems”.
An adventure of teachable moments: Joy needs to learn that all the emotions are important he can’t just be one or the other… it’s the same thing filmmakers hope the audience learns as well!
MORE INFO (possible spoilers): (more…)