For those who haven’t yet seen Disney Pixar’s latest release Inside Out, it is essentially a child-friendly insight into the workings of the human brain. The focus is on one little girl, named Riley, and the five main emotions that run the ‘headquarters’ of her brain. This film is very important and here’s why:
The entire moral of the film is that you need to feel sad sometimes. It tells children that it’s normal to get sad and that you really can’t get anywhere without feeling a range of emotions in your life – namely joy, sadness, disgust, fear, and anger. But that’s not it… they portray this moral through the embodiment of these five emotions which actually creates a sub-moral! (Moral inception). I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll divulge that the focus is on an adventure between characters Joy and Sadness and how Joy learns to appreciate Sadness and recognise her importance. Acceptance and open-mindedness!! How can that not get you excited?
Automatically, a very large range of children are going to be able to relate to this film in some way. It may lack racial diversity (as per) but what we can see is a pre-pubescent girl challenging gender boundaries by being awesome at ice-hockey and choosing to wear what I’d call gender-neutral clothes. She is going through a lot of changes in her life which creates a very confusing stage of growing up. The focus is on her brain though; this film is about her mental health which is so so important and so so in need of being addressed to our children. The five emotions could also be used to represent specific categories of people with strong or extreme personalities that you’re likely to avoid, find annoying, or possibly even bully at 11 years old. What Disney is saying though, is that everyone is vital for something. Everyone is needed. Everyone is important.
Now, I’ve been focusing on the children here but I’m almost 19 years old and I, along with my 17 year old brother, came out of the cinema after watching Inside Out and we both felt this gratifying feeling of reassurance. I’d actually been having a very low week and agreed to go to the cinema as avoidance of the real world, but it actually improved my mind-set significantly. ‘Now I know why I feel that cripplingly painful sense of numbness I get all the time! It’s just a maintenance issue in the headquarters of my brain, it’ll get fixed soon enough’; this was one of the more significant revelations I had.
Despite the madness: such as the personality islands, the involvement of Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong, and dreams literally being created by actors and a film crew each night (among other absurdities) the colourful labyrinth that Disney has created in order to demonstrate how a brain works for young people truly helped me, as an adult, feel as if I could understand my own brain a little better. As always, there are plenty of innuendos aimed at the adults which will completely fly over children’s heads but ultimately highlight the hilarious genius that is Disney and emphasise that Disney films aren’t just for children. I was genuinely and unbearingly moved at times during this movie, as well as able to laugh at the more mature irony in it.
So as if an animated movie about growing up and struggling with confusing emotions and mental health isn’t enough to entice you, let me finish with an example of the most perfect casting ever. Joy- Amy Poehler, Sadness- Phyllis Smith, Fear- Bill Hader, Disgust- Mindy Kaling, and Anger- Lewis Black. Seriously, perfect. Now go and watch Inside Out.