I finally went to see Pixar’s Inside Out! I took myself on a date this morning, when tickets are $6.99. I loved it. I loved the short clip, “Lava” — oh the desire for an old lonely volcano to have someone to love. Heartstrings.
(Movie spoilers ahead!)
Inside Out. One of my favorite reviews on it comes from NPR, which gets at the core of why it is such an important film for kids and adults:
“Nothing in Riley’s mind is ultimately tagged as not belonging or not wanted, because nothing in her mind can be separated from who she is. She is made up of the same things that cause her sadness, fright and disgust — those little emotions are her and she is them. There’s nothing to defeat; if anything, what Riley is fighting against is the impulse to exile the feelings that embarrass her.”
No villain tramps around Riley’s drama– instead, all the emotions play their role inside her brain. Joy is the childhood take-charge, gonna-be-happy-all-the-time spirit (voiced by Amy Poehler, fabulously). She starts out the story as the clear leader, but as Riley grows and as the emotions get to know each other, we find that they all have their important roles.
Fear wants to keep Riley safe, ever careful and sometimes trembling. Disgust wants to keep Riley happy in a protective, somewhat distancing manner. Anger takes action; it is his fiery energy at the end of the film which physically reunites the team. Sadness empathizes with others, makes meaning of difficult days, and it is her knowledge that saves the day again and again during her adventures with Joy. And Joy– well, Joy matures throughout the film and realizes that when she works together with Sadness, they are stronger together. All four- Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Joy– play their part. Each emotion plays a role. None of them is going anywhere, they are all in it together with Riley. When Riley acknowledges her sadness, she is able to connect honestly with her parents at the end of the film.
Riley is eleven going on twelve, and I imagine many children, teens, and adults can relate to the chaos and bantering of emotions pushing and pulling internally. Acceptance is key, again: each emotion has its moment, takes the helm, and then lets go. When the emotions fight and try to prevent each other from expressing themselves, that’s when the chaos continues. Disgust is disgusted when Fear mans the dream station, because he generally produces nightmares for Riley. Anger is angry that Fear was terrified of the dreams… yet they accept each other. Everyone has to take a turn at the dream station. Everyone has to take a turn and they accept each others’ different approaches in the job.
I cried when the imaginary friend sacrificed himself to save Joy– the forgetting of childhood times gone by and willingness to move forward, grow up.
I cried when Sadness let Riley cry to her parents and let down her walls, and be comforted.
I cried when Riley tells her parents that she doesn’t want to pretend to be happy when she really is sad that she had to move and leave her old life behind. I cried when her father said he felt sad too.
Kids need moments like this. Adults do, too. How are you really feeling? While Riley’s emotions bicker and fight each other, they rarely judge each other: Not one of them is worse or better, they all play a role. Joy shifts from telling Sadness to stay in a circle and not touch anything to acknowledge that Sadness is the only one who can save Riley, because she needs to be seen and recognized.
We need to see and recognize all of our emotions.