“Inside Out” may look like a kids’ movie, but teens get it

From left, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, Joy, and Anger. Photo courtesy of the National Post
From left, Fear, Disgust, Sadness, Joy, and Anger. Photo courtesy of the National Post

An animation movie that’s not just for kids? Is that even possible? I was as skeptical as you before seeing the spectacular production that is Inside Out. It manages to be entertaining and simple for children while simultaneously containing underlying complexities that resonate with adults.

“Inside Out” is a story of five people that live in all of our heads: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, and Fear. The movie, however, focuses on a little girl named Riley. We share her journey from the day she is born, starting with her initial reaction to new experiences. Unknown object comes into sight? Fear gets right on that. Spoonful of broccoli approaching Riley’s mouth? Disgust is the first one on the scene.  

"Inside Out" characters admiring the Personality Islands. Photo courtesy of Pixar
“Inside Out” characters admiring the Personality Islands. Photo courtesy of Pixar

Not only is “Inside Out” a fun watch, but it’s also educational. It takes a unique approach to showing how the mind works. Memories are collected each day into small orbs in headquarters (the brain) and then at the end of every day are sent to long term memory. The more special memories, named core memories, are those that occur when Riley is younger and form her different “personality islands” – personality traits – such as Family, Friendship, Goofball, Hockey and Imagination island.

Throughout the movie, there are even more creative ways that the movie producers show the operations of the brain including how memories fade and how dreams are made.

The real adventure starts when Joy and Sadness accidentally exit headquarters due to a memory malfunction. Without Joy, Riley cannot be happy. The movie consists of the journey of Joy and Sadness as they attempt to get back to headquarters while the other emotions – Disgust, Fear, and Anger – are left to their own devices. Sadness and Joy realize they must work together — something they’re not used to doing — in order to get back to headquarters. This contributes to the underlying message that our emotions are intertwined rather than separate and cannot possibly exist without the other. In order for one to know Joy, one must also know Sadness.

From left, actors Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling pose for a portrait in promotion the new Disney-Pixar animated feature film, "Inside Out". Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP
From left, actors Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling pose for a portrait in promotion the new Disney-Pixar animated feature film, “Inside Out”. Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP

The cherry on top of this movie production would have to be the amazing cast choice — almost all of whom are comedians. Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler is the voice of the upbeat Joy, SNL’s Bill Hader is Fear, The Office’s Mindy Kaling and Phyllis Smith are Disgust and Sadness, and Lewis Black is Anger.

Don’t believe me? Then listen to Rotten Tomatoes which gave Inside Out a whopping 98%.

And they’re not alone. The Guardian is as big of a fan. “Inside Out is in the top rank of Pixar productions with its combination of audacity, intelligence, wit and emotional reward.” 

Pixar’s “Inside Out” is an interesting, creative, and funny movie that shows you just how mature cartoons can be. It definitely gave me a new perspective on the human mind and how it operates. Although the movie only has five basic emotions, you are bound to feel more!

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