Ages 11 and under
Male and Female
Never before have I seen a portrayal of the human mind as acutely or as instantly relatable as Inside Out.
Surely every child has been through a manic period of growing pains, which can include moving from one city to another or saying goodbye to a close friend. Well now, Pixar Animation studios has taken the liberty of showing kids exactly what happens in human psychology in a perfect relatable fashion. With five brightly colored characters in a vivid world inside an 11-year-old girl’s head, every imaginable portion of the mind is explored, from the imaginative games we played as toddlers to the dreams we have at night.
Everything here begins with an explanation of what makes up the mind of a certain girl named Riley. Joy keeps her happy, Fear keeps her safe, Disgust keeps her from getting poisoned (both literally and socially), Anger helps her to keep things fair, and then there’s Sadness, who has no apparent use yet. These emotions decide through a control board how Riley reacts to everything throughout the day, which creates memories collected into multicolored orbs. Over her life they preserve the core memories of her life in the center of her mind; from there, these islands of personality are maintained by the core memories, making up the entirety of Riley’s personality. Outside of the headquarters, the mind workers are doing all the behind the scenes maintenance of her mind, including the running of her train of thought and storing away her fears in a prison.
All seems well with Riley until she suddenly moves from chilly small-town of Minnesota to the robust city of San Francisco. It’s a key moment in any child’s life full of emotional highs and lows that permanently alter one’s character. So sure enough, the journey with the five emotions inside of Riley’s head passes as both a simple adventure as well as a study of how people deal with trauma. At first, Joy takes all the authority to keep Riley happy 24/7 while Sadness just stays in a circle, and Joy, Anger, Fear, and Disgust together try to prevent non-happy memories from becoming core memories. All seems to go as planned until Riley is forced to go to her new school, and her struggle to stay positive affects what her emotions struggle to do. The result is that Joy, Sadness, and the core memories end up outside of the headquarters, separated from Anger, Disgust, and Fear. These two key emotions are now stuck in the endless hallways of Riley’s memories in need to get back to aid Riley. You know, it’s just like depression in real life: where joy and sadness are lost only for anger, disgust, and fear to take the helm.
That said, everything else about Inside Out will make you smile ear-to-ear as well as drown in tears. The shining look of the inner mind is wondrous to behold, and the final moments will crush your soul by how real it feels. These feelings are strongly supported by enthusiastic voice acting by Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, and the hard-talking comedian Lewis Black as Anger.
Even if you are an adult watching this animated picture come to life, you will feel like you are stepping back into your childhood memories. One of the splendidly memorable new characters is Riley’s old imaginary friend Bing Bong, who with his dolphin shrieks and candy tears is as explosive as any child.
If I have any complaints about this new achievement by the immortal Pixar, then it would have to be a few brief scenes where we see what’s inside the thoughts of Riley’s parents. The emotions in their minds are identical to the emotions in Riley’s head, except with hairpieces and moustaches identical to their host, and the voices of the same voice actors as their host as well. This is not necessary at all in the telling of the story, and only adds inconsistency to the rules of the established world.
But otherwise, Inside Out is not only great fun for the entire family to enjoy together, but it’s actually an important one for kids to see as a visual aid to the human mind. Over the course of an hour and a half, a little girl experiencing growing pains and about to hit puberty learns the importance of letting her heart out to cry. She learns how it’s not good to just be happy all the time, but that sadness is important in letting loved ones in; and if you rely on anger, disgust, or fear to get yourself happy again, then all your relationships will crumble. If that’s not a positive moral for kids, then I don’t know what is.
“Cheer up! Stay positive! Always look on the bright side of life!” Wherever we go, at home, at school, or at work, we are always pressed upon by our peers and media to keep up a grin as a solution to hard times. Anything besides happy, we are expected to think that something is wrong with us. If we get angry, we get called aggressive. If we are disgusted, we get called judgmental. If we are fearful, we get called cowardly. If we are sad, we get called negative.
What Inside Out teaches us is that we have multiple emotions for a reason: each one makes up who we are, that means we should not feel ashamed to express tears of sorrow when necessary. No matter what our surroundings try to tell us, it is not always a good thing to keep a happy face. It’s even more important that we make sure people with ASD understand this.
With every situation of moving or switching schools, all sorts of emotional upsets overwhelm a savant’s mind like an overfilled glass continuing to be filled.
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #39: Change is Devastating for an Aspie.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #72: Moving Starts a Whole New Chapter.
Although I was one of the lucky few who lived in the same house all his life up until graduating high school, I still had to go through uncomfortable major change when transitioning from one school up to the next. The types of thoughts going through my head included: How much harder will the work be? Will I be in a class with this person? What do I do if I get lost in the building? How mean will the teachers be?
But my problem was more with how people reacted to my concern. When I expressed my concern about going to a new school, the most common response I heard was “deal with it, it will be fine.” It did not help me at all in my worries. It leads me into the one thing that I dislike the most about peoples’ reaction to another’s distress: their lack of understanding.
My parents could also say they have been a little guilty of this too, but far too often I have been flatly told how I should feel, which was always to be happy, without much regard to how I was feeling in the present state. At the time, I didn’t know better, but growing up allowed me and my parents to realize that when you have autism, you can’t just auto-switch from one emotion to another. It takes time and a quiet attitude.
I was even bad at faking an emotion. All through my childhood, if I was upset about something, no matter my situation, I made sure everybody knew. I could not even just fake a positive attitude, because it would have been too much work for me to handle. That said, I’m better at it now, but there was a time, especially in my teen years, when my emotions were expressed exactly how I was thinking them.
Six-Word Lessons for Autism Friendly Workplaces, Lesson #83: Being Blunt is Part of Autism.
Because of this, I want to stress that the best way to help somebody with autism is to show compassion: let them know that you fully understand what they’re going through.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #64: Tell Him That You Love Him.
A soft, understanding tone will always calm the storm of the most distressed mind, and even more importantly, let the other know that you are here to meet their needs. The child’s priorities may not be in the right place when they request your attention, but nevertheless, it evidences all the more how much they need you to open your ears and your heart to their problems.
- Instead of quickly drawing conclusions or saying, “I understand,” show your kids that you know their pain. The best way to do this is by telling a story about a similar experience you went through. This helps the child to know he/she is not alone, and that you are fully approachable in future times of trouble.
- If you are a savant who can’t handle all the difficulties in major life changes, be sure to talk to someone. In Inside Out, Riley found that expressing her sadness to her parents rather than bottling it up helped her far greater than faking happiness.
- Get in touch with a good psychiatrist if controlling emotions gets to be too hard to handle. Getting a handle on feelings is much harder when you have autism, and just like how it has helped me, it may help you too.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Inside Out Official Website. Disney, Web. <http://movies.disney.com/inside-out/>.
MacQuarrie, Jim. Filmmakers Discuss the Making of ‘Inside Out’. Geek Dad. PriceGrabber, 18 June 2015. Web. <http://geekdad.com/2015/06/filmmakers-making-inside-out/>.
Movie Bloopers & Making Of. Inside Out (2015) Making of & Behind the Scenes (Part1/2). YouTube, 11 June 2015. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TTeIYSYyyc>.