Inside Out Review: An Emotional Rollercoaster
By Joanna Cosgrove
First announced in 2012, Inside Out was highly promoted as a Pixar movie for the ages. Stemming away from the usual sweet and happy themes throughout a picture created by this animation company, Inside Out gets deep, personal and – in all honesty – emotional.
It has a concept you can truly believe: our emotions are small beings in our mind that run a business that revolves around keeping your mind healthy and keeping your memories safe. We all experience emotion from the day we are born – as shown at the start of the movie, with baby Riley giggling softly as the newly created Joy (Amy Poehler, Parks and Rec) activates her very first sensation of emotion. But only 33 seconds later, Joy meets her counterpart in Sadness (Phyllis Smith, The Office), who bursts the newborn into tears.
As Riley grows up, she develops the understanding of other common emotions: Fear (Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live), Anger (Lewis Black, Root of All Evil) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project). Each emotion has the ability to save a memory of Riley’s, expressed in their designated feeling, and they can store it in Riley’s long-term memory – seen on-screen set up as a maze, made from shelves filled with orbs of memories of gold, blue, purple, red and green.
The movie itself revolves around Riley’s family moving from Minnesota to San Francisco and her emotions trying to help her cope with the changes around her. But when one of her “core memories” – the memories that represent important aspects of Riley’s personality such as friendship, family and hockey – is turned sad by Sadness and causes an emotional slip in Riley, Joy – her main emotion – attempts to secure the memories again before more turn sad. However, she almost loses control of them and as they are accidentally sent to the long-term memory, Joy and Sadness follow them. Without those core memories, Riley would lose aspects of her personality and simply lose everything important to her.
Internally in Riley’s conscious mind – the emotions’ Headquarters – the remaining emotions try and keep her at a balance but as they have no way of keeping Riley happy and joyful, she slowly falls into a depression. Without the core memories to keep alive her five personality islands alive, each crumbles one by one as Riley takes the differences to heart: her failing a tryout for the new location’s hockey team, her best friend at home finding a new friend, and her anger at her parents resulting in her considering running away back to Minnesota – an idea suggested by Anger at Headquarters.
As the movie resolves Joy and Sadness come to an agreement that yes, Riley’s core memories should remain joyful, but that joy also comes from sadness – and it’s only humane to have happiness and hurt forever in your mind.
A glimpse into the future sees a vast development in Headquarters, with a larger control console to help all five emotions manage Riley’s feelings – including a warning button labelled “Puberty” that’s just no big deal – and further development of Riley’s personality with more islands built. There are also more memories being created, with emotional combinations retained.
I want to give praises to the whole crew who worked on this movie because I believe this is one of the best movies to come out of Pixar.
Inside Out is a movie for the ages, as I stated in my opener, as it deals with the philosophical matters of the human mind, the importance of emotions and meanings of memories adjusted in a media that would help young children understand.
It also deals with emotional distress and depression, and I feel the representation is highly important as it’s been stigmatised greatly when young people have been diagnosed with mental health issues such as depression. In this movie, it perfectly portrays Riley’s depression as a serious matter of a minor cause; she felt homesick and with the absence of Joy, she cannot gain a happy state of mind about her new home in San Francisco. I believe this storyline was unique and expressed amazingly in this animated flick and even though director Pete Docter said he never plans on a sequel, if he at all changes his mind, I would proudly support him.
I would recommend taking your child, sibling, any young person in your family to see this – both for their viewing pleasure and benefit, and your own. They will learn that sometimes it’s okay to feel sad about life, and you’ll learn that a young person’s emotions are indeed valid.
Hey, it’s not unknown for adults to learn from children’s entertainment.