Movie Review: Inside Out

A review of Disney Pixar‘s Inside Out:

It’s often the case that movies geared toward children will tend to simplify things, presumably so that children will be more likely to understand them. Inside Out takes a different approach. Yes, many concepts are simplified or rendered visually so that viewers will be able to quickly comprehend topics commonly covered in textbooks on neuroscience and psychology. Where Inside Out differs is that it seems to simply things so that adults can understand them. There are numerous examples of this throughout the film, but here are some quick examples. Memories are represented as spheres that are stored and retrieved. Core memories; those formative experiences we have in our early years that help define who we are are visually represented as spheres, just like other memories, but have the additional visualization of powering islands, which represent things such as friendship and honesty. 

What is most intriguing about the film is that there are no villains. No, not even the emotions Anger or Sadness are villains. This is particularly important for adults in general and parents in particular to pay attention to. Inside Out implies that people don’t start out as “bad” people. Rather, their environment – their experiences, choices, and support group – largely determine whether or not a person follows down a dark path, as depicted in the film. This is a critical message in the movie that is given a beautiful, yet subtle, treatment in the film. The point that is made is that those children who society often labels as a “bad kid” or a “bad seed” are products of our society. We made them that way.

Ultimately, Riley (the main character of the film), learns to integrate her emotions and achieve a higher level of maturity. Again, this is visually represented very well.

This film is probably the best Pixar has produced. They have successfully incorporated complex themes from psychology and neuroscience into a highly accessible and entertaining movie. Children may learn a little bit about themselves and gain a better grasp of how their minds function the way they do and parents might actually walk away with some knowledge that could help them be better parents.

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