I’ve said before that I have yet to meet a Pixar movie I didn’t love. After seeing Inside Out, that statement still stands. Hubby and I took the girls to see Disney•Pixar’s newest movie a couple of weeks ago, and everybody fell in love with this sweet and clever story about an 11-year-old girl, Riley, and the personified emotions in charge of managing her internal experiences and her memories. Released in theatres today, this needs to be at the top of your must see list this summer.
“When Riley’s family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind – taking some of her core memories with them – Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places – Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions – in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.”
For the kids it’s an adventure story. Joy and Sadness are on a quest to return to Riley’s headquarters and stop her personality from disintegrating. For the parents, it’s that and so much more. (Bring Kleenex. Trust me.)
Visually, the technicolour animation supports and reflects the emotional tone of the story. There were several scenes that my two-year-old found too scary, especially in the subconscious (isn’t that scary to all of us?), and even my five-year-old was a bit worried by some of them. Expect younger children to find some scenes too intense. The 3D glasses may bother their eyes too, so this is probably best for a slightly older crowd, maybe five and up.
This might sound funny for a movie that revolves around fictional personifications of emotions, but one of the things I loved most was how authentic Riley and her family felt to me. To start with, Riley is just a really neat kid. She loves her family, her friends, and hockey, in that order. Her parents love her very much, but like the rest of us they’re busy and constantly juggling multiple demands on their time. Riley does her best to look happy for her parents, and thinking that everything is okay, her parents focus their attention on other demands and miss the cues that their daughter is not alright.
When Joy, Sadness, and Riley’s core memories accidentally get lost in the long-term memory stacks, Riley becomes more and more disconnected from the things that used to be important to her, threatening her core personality traits.
All five emotions work together for Riley. Even though they’re usually considered “negative” emotions, their obvious care and concern for Riley and each other make Anger, Fear, and Disgust likable. But it’s the relationship between Joy and Sadness that really make the movie special. At first glance they seem to be polar opposites. Joy remarks that Anger keeps things fair, Fear keeps Riley safe, Disgust keeps her from being poisoned, but nobody knows what Sadness is good for.
The big aha moment occurs when Joy comes to realize the vital role that Sadness plays. It’s a deep lesson not often seen in a child’s movie – that sadness and pain are important parts of the human experience and signal those around us that we need help. When Joy learns this lesson, she realizes that Sadness has a very important role to play in helping Riley deal with the big move and reconnect with her parents.
On the car ride home after the movie, we had a great discussion about love and sacrifice and family. We talked about why it’s important to embrace all our emotions, why an unhappy child might want to run away from her problems, and how a parent might feel about that.
Like all Pixar movies, this is just as endearing and relevant to adults as it is for children. Emotional (of course!) but never sappy, this is definitely the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. Grab the kids and go watch this. You’ll thank me later.
(Oh, and stick around for the end credits where you’ll get a hilarious peek into the minds of some of the other characters in the movie.)