(The “Inside Out” poster from disney.wikia.com.)
Disney•Pixar’s newest film, “Inside Out,” has been getting huge amounts of positive buzz. Critics and viewers alike are raving about the daring film. The endless positive reviews seems to indicate that risk has led to reward. Sitting in the audience tells a different story. Disney•Pixar has created a wonderful film, but it has also failed to connect with some of its main fans: children.
“Inside Out” centers on 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), but it spends most of its time with her emotions. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust (Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling) live together inside Riley’s mind in “Headquarters.” They can see what Riley sees and use a control panel to influence her actions. The film does an excellent job of illustrating Riley’s psychology in a way that is beautiful and relatively accurate. The director invited well-known psychologist and emotions expert Paul Ekman to work with the crew, and it shows.
The film follows Riley and her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) as they move from Minnesota to San Francisco. The family is close and fun-loving, but it is a stressful move. Early on, Riley’s mom praises her for staying upbeat, and the emotions decide they will do all they can to keep Riley acting happy. Joy tries to stop Sadness from having any influence, but it’s like Sadness cannot help herself, accidentally tinging memories with unhappiness and influencing Riley’s reactions.
Adults and older children will recognize this behavior as compartmentalization. It is children who understand the basic emotions, but not the more complicated ones Riley is developing, who may be troubled by the film. It was hard for some children in the theater to understand the film’s appeal. They felt with Riley, and like her, they had trouble processing their emotions. Adults could appreciate the sadness, the subtle humor, and the genius illustration of the concepts. Some kids just felt sad, and a little lost — much like the main character.
Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear, and Sadness at the control panel. (Image source: polygon.com)
The youngest children probably will not understand the film’s plot, but they can still enjoy its transcendent music and animation. The music was composed by Michael Giacchino, who also scored Disney•Pixar’s “Up.” Like the music from “Up,” the “Inside Out” soundtrack can tell the entire story on its own, but never distracts or detracts from the rest of the movie. The movie is also visually captivating but not overwhelming, thanks to its foundation in basics like color, shape, and texture.
The brilliance of “Inside Out” starts with its broad concept and ends with its intricate execution. There are only a few things that parents might find objectionable for young children — some scary moments and bad decisions Riley makes. Overall, the film is beautiful, thoughtful, and artfully crafted. It is one the family should see together and discuss together afterward. At its most basic, this story is about emotional turmoil, and the audience feels every minute of it. Adults are more able to deal with complex emotions, but young viewers may need help to understand Riley’s emotions and their own. For more detailed reviews and information, visit: