My granddaughter Aubrey and I had the opportunity to spend the day with my sister, Linda, and her granddaughter London. We declared it a girls’ day and it was the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.
The girls enjoyed lunch at Chick-Fil-A, with fun time in the indoor playground area, surrounded by a crowd of kids. They finished their outing there with vanilla ice cream. Later in the day, they cooled off by splashing around in a kiddie pool in Linda’s backyard and playing in the play room together.
The highlight of our day was a trip to the movie theater to watch the new animated release, Inside Out. All of us were excited about this film. Aubrey has been watching previews for days, in preparation for the movie. London bought Inside Out figurines, so of course, Aubrey had to get some too. As we arrived at the theater, the girls were busily chatting about the characters, and speculating about what part the elephant, Bing Bong, played in the story.
Inside Out is a Pixar Animation Studio/Walt Disney Pictures film featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan. Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen directed and wrote the story. The comedy drama is rated PG and has a run time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.
Riley Anderson (Dias) is a happy eleven year old girl, thrown into confusion when her family leaves their home in Minnesota and moves across the country to San Francisco, California. While her mom and dad (Lane and MacLachlan) deal with a missing moving van and the stress of new jobs, Riley struggles with adjusting to a new home, new friends and a new school. She is guided by her emotions Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Anger (Black) and Disgust (Kaling) who occupy space inside Riley’s brain, a place they refer to as Headquarters. The emotions direct her through every day life and situations, while keeping tabs on the colorful spheres that accumulate, each holding a memory from the day.
Joy is Riley’s primary emotion, present with her since birth. Using optimism and high energy, she keeps the other emotions in check and strives to keep Riley happy and smiling. With the move, however, the other emotions are in conflict with Joy, especially Sadness, who while moping around, keeps touching the memory spheres, changing them from joyful yellow to tinged with blue sadness.
When Joy and Sadness are accidently relocated deep within Riley’s long term memory, the other emotions attempt to monitor and help Riley, who becomes angry, fearful and disgusted with her situation and her parents. Joy and Sadness watch helplessly as Riley sinks into resentment as she longs to return to Minnesota. While they are making their way through the girl’s memories, imagination and dreamscape, heading back to Headquarters with Riley’s core memories, they observe her personality shifting, her core values falling away into the desolate area of forgotten memories.
With the help of Bing Bong (Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend from her early childhood, Joy and Sadness navigate through a confusing and often treacherous landscape, learning how important it is for all the emotions, especially Sadness, to be given importance, if not dominance.
This was a delightful movie. And one that provided an interesting and often humorous look at the warring emotions inside each of us. I watched, amused, as Joy rallied the other emotions and sent a steady stream happy memories and reminders to Riley, keeping her upbeat. With her highly positive outlook, she reminded me….of me. What was portrayed very well, and impacted me the most, was the role Sadness played in creating a sense of compassion and companionship between Riley and her parents. It turned out Riley needed her lower emotion of Sadness to be able to appreciate her family and her past experiences, and to appreciate Joy more.
I have struggled with the emotion of Sadness in my own life, denying it for years, refusing to give in to it, to the point where I have lost the ability to freely shed tears. It’s not that I want to be ruled by Sadness, or dwell there very often or for very long, but watching the emotions in this animated film brought to my awareness how important ALL of my emotions are, and that they all have value and something to offer to me if I will accept those gifts. I could almost hear my own version of Sadness breathe a long sigh of relief as I “got it”. And I was ruled, dominated, by the emotion of Fear for an unnaturally long time. It has taken a very conscious shift within to loosen Fear’s hold on me. I am grateful that Joy is my primary emotion now, yet I desire to be mindful of what my other emotions are alerting me to.
The girls chatted about the movie afterward, and perhaps not surprisingly, both had sympathy and appreciation for Sadness as well. Aubrey used to play a little game with people, when she was only two years old. She would rest her hand lightly the leg or arm of another, feeling into their emotions, and ask, “Are you happy, mad or sad?” Watching Inside Out today, I recognized that she has had a very healthy relationship with her emotions for her entire life. It is amazing what I can learn from an animated movie. I appreciate the girls for suggesting this film. We all want to see it again!
The girls hamming it up with a movie cut out.