When people discuss films, they often dismiss cartoons or animated films as something that is merely for children. However, they seldom realize the magnitude of the arts as a tool to entertain and touch on subjects that can help younger audiences understand the world a little better. Pixar has always taken pride in creating movies and shorts that deliver powerful messages, and its 2015 film Inside Out is no different.
Inside Out introduces the audience to emotions as living beings that live inside and guide people. The protagonist, an eleven-year-old girl named Riley, is driven by Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness. Joy acts as the captain who drives Riley to become a happy-go-lucky individual chock full of confidence. While she regularly lets others take control of the situation, Joy singles out Sadness, believing she plays no part in Riley’s growth.
Riley and her family move to San Francisco, and Joy tries her best to keep Riley’s spirits up. The conflict is created when Joy and Sadness get entangled over a core memory and get taken outside their base, leaving Anger, Fear, and Disgust to take the rein. Far from home, the two set off on a journey to get back to help Riley cope with her new surroundings. Without Joy and Sadness, Riley spirals into confusion, unable to hold herself together.
Inside Out talks about how most children (and adults to some extent) need to be okay with handling emotions, not just the positive ones but also the negative. Joy’s attempt to maintain the upbeat personality that Riley had in her former home may have been for good intentions but only left her struggling to accept change. In the early stages of Riley’s transition from her old home to her new one, there were moments when Sadness was needed to deal with change. Joy’s control left her no room to settle into a new environment.
To get into the head of a teenage girl, director Pete Docter consulted with experts and psychologists. While cartoons often exaggerate certain aspects of the world, Docter was determined to make Inside Out as scientifically accurate as possible. Although the film took five years to develop, the team’s hard work paid off, with many psychologists praising the movie. Experts have cited how the film captures Emmy Van Deurzen’s compass of emotion. Van Deurzen mentions how people need to experience every emotion. The act of avoiding them leaves people trapped, much like Riley in the film. As the movie progresses, Riley slowly starts to shut down and exhibit symptoms of depression, opening the door to her plan to run away from home.
Inside Out emphasizes the importance of accepting all kinds of emotions for children and adults. It also reaches out to parents who often tell children to ignore their negative feelings. The film is a perfect example of the magnitude of how emotional suppression can lead to bad decisions and possibly trauma if kept in for a long time. Negative emotions are still emotions, and the film’s conclusion shows how acceptance can still bring people together, learn from one another, and work together to improve their situation.