Animated cartoons and a bright retro-inspired design set the stage for Pixar’s latest block-buster “Inside-Out.” On the surface this may seem like just another cartoon, but after viewing it's clear that this film packs much more. Witty, entertaining, and scientifically sound, this is a film for the entire family. In planning for the film, writer director Pete Doctor consulted with a team of scientists to help create an accurate picture of the science and development behind emotional literacy. In these meetings he learned how emotions both govern the stream of consciousness and color our past memories and what the emotional life of an 11-year-old girl is really like. Fast forward to the release of “Inside-out,” set inside 11-year old Riley’s mind, where Doctor uses visual metaphors that are both clever and striking to bring all of his research to life. Through this film, viewers learn to both understand their own emotions as well as better empathize with others…useful lessons for all ages!
Although it’s Riley’s life experiences that dictate the plot, primarily her move from Minnesota to San Francisco, the central focus is really on her internal representations of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Anxiety, and Disgust, personified into brightly colored characters. These 5 characters reside inside her control center, managing her personality, memories, and emotions. Up until the move, Riley is a happy and easy-going kid, connected to friends, family, and her hockey team, a real goof-ball. Joy seems to be the head honcho, running the show with pride and at one point even questioning why Sadness is there. As Riley is uprooted from her friends and home everything begins to change and the importance of Sadness becomes clear. Riley’s not happy in San Francisco and Joy can’t regain charge of the control center. Everything is going haywire and Anger, Anxiety, Disgust and most importantly Sadness have to step in and up.
Riley is dealing with loss, depicted first in the loss of her childhood home and friends and second by her entrance into the preteen years and the natural loss of childhood. As these 5 emotions confront the affects of these losses, we discover that there’s space and necessity for each of them. Once Joy backs down and allows Sadness to guide the way, helping Riley to embrace her losses and move into her new life, a level of clarity arises, setting the stage for new identities to form, interests to develop, and relationships to flourish. What we’re left with is a clear understanding that ALL emotions serve a purpose…even those that are deemed uncomfortable. So begin to make some space. Be curious…ask yourself, your partner, children, and friends “WHAT’S WRONG?” before focusing on finding a solution. Practice being ok with the answer…regardless of which character comes to the table.