Movie Review: Inside Out

The boyfriend and I were down to two choices for which movie to see this weekend-Jurassic World or Inside Out.  It basically came down to whichever one was playing closest to the time we happened to be at the theater, which ended up being Inside Out.  (That and, because I’m spoiled, Beau made the final decision based on the one he knew I wanted to see the most, I think.)

I’m the kind of person that cries at commercials if they pull the right strings, so I went into the movie knowing I would cry at some point.  If you’ve seen the movie trailers, you go into it knowing it’s about the girl (Riley) being sad, and Beau mentioned that (because it’s Disney) he went into it convinced that one or both of her parents were going to die.  I can happily report that that is not the case.

We have a story about a little girl whose life has been uprooted because of a move to a new state.  The little characters inside her head are the ones responsible for her emotions, and are the “headquarters” of where memories are made and stored before filtering all the rest of the memories out to Long Term.  The story follows Riley’s story through the characters of emotion inside her head.  Everything is going fine until something goes wrong in headquarters and Joy and Sadness get sucked out and sent off to the banks of Long Term memory.

What we’re left with is a journey for the two major emotions to get back to headquarters or else the little girl will never be happy (or even sad) again.  A lot can be said about this movie – the use of creativity is wonderful, the use of humor is well-placed and had me in stitches a lot of the time, the color and the animation is great.  But there are three things that I came away from the movie thinking about, the first being the most important to me, and that is that you can’t always have Joy.  Life will not always be about laughter and light and excitement.  There will be times when you are sad, and the biggest message this movie had was that it is OK to be sad.  I think that’s the most powerful message you can send to anyone, let alone to children through the media of a kid’s movie.  And that brings me to my second observation that I enjoyed about the movie, which is that Joy and Sadness had the same color hair.

Now, the same color hair thing wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal, except that when they pan out to other people’s heads (like her parents, for instance), all of their emotions have the same hair, which matches the person on the outside.  But inside Riley’s head, the five different emotions have anywhere from green, blue, to no hair.  I took two things from this.  The first, that Joy and Sadness can and mostly do go hand-in-hand, so that is why their hair matches.  Together, they make the bulk of our own emotions.  Sometimes we’re so happy we cry, or sometimes we can be both happy and sad at the same time.  The second thing I took from it is that once we become adults (in theory, of course), our emotions start to balance out a little.  We start to get a handle on who we are as people and how our emotions define us.  So, in the instances where the movie pans in to an adult’s head and all the emotion characters look just like that adult, I take it to mean that they’ve found balance.

And that leads me to my third observation:  Within the heads of the adults, the emotion characters were all the same sex.  Her dad had all male characters, her mom and her teacher all female.  But the little girl had a mix of them, three girls and two boys.  I really liked that they did that.  I don’t know how intentional or unintentional it was, but I was extremely glad to see that the main character got a little more, well, character.  It could bring forth questions of sexual identity, if I wanted to look at it that way.  It could also just be another way of pointing out that as children, we have so many amazing facets to our personalities that, as we get older, can sometimes start to blend into a sameness that just makes us who we are.  What I take from it, specifically, is that I don’t want to have the little emotion characters inside my head being all the same. I want to remain colorful and multi-faceted, even now.  To do that, I think it’s important to remember to embrace your inner child more often.

So, overall, Inside Out is a great family movie to take your kids to, and if you don’t have kids, it’s a great movie to take yourself to.  Go enjoy the colors, the humor, and the tears, and see what interpretations you get from it. This is a film that will definitely be on my shelves in six months!

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