Inside Out Review by Christine Arumainayagam
Who wouldn’t want a look inside of their moody preteen daughter’s head? Pixar’s Inside Out, directed by Pete Dokter, accomplishes this task using lighthearted humor for younger audiences and darker, more mature themes for older viewers. The entire concept of the movie is unique and innovative; nothing less can be expected from the same man who directed Up and Monsters Inc.
The protagonist in this film is eleven-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), and we see her grow up happily, thanks to her loving parents, friends, and passion for hockey. We also immediately see the narration split between Riley’s life and the colorful personification of the five main emotions inside her brain’s Headquarters: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), all of whom portray convincing voices for the feelings they represent.
One of the main strengths of the movie is the relatability. As any child who is forced to move houses is fully aware, it can be a traumatizing experience. This is faithfully represented in Riley’s brain when Joy and Sadness are sucked out of Headquarters after the family’s move to dreary San Francisco, leaving Anger, Fear, and Disgust at the controls. Since Riley is normally a very happy girl, and since Joy is the leader of the pack, her remaining emotions run haywire.
For example, during a family dinner, Disgust shoots unrelenting sass at Riley’s parents, which eventually culminates into an explosion of Anger. As Riley screams “JUST SHUT UP!” to her parents and marches upstairs, viewers are left feeling tense and uncomfortable, reminiscing about the ways they have been rude to their own parents and perhaps picturing their own emotions wreaking havoc in their brains.
Adult viewers are also reminded of things such as depression and anger issues through Riley’s struggles and the commotion inside Headquarters. At one point, the entire control board goes black, and none of the emotions can get through to Riley, causing her to feel nothing. Although the word “depression” never comes up in the movie, those who have been through it may identify strongly with Riley’s outer life and also the events inside her brain.
The main message of this movie is surprisingly mature for a children’s movie: you don’t always have to be happy, and sometimes a little sadness is necessary every now and then. All in all, Inside Out is well worth the watch, whether you’re an emotional child or a parent attempting to decipher an emotional child’s behavior.