I took Meg to her second theater-based movie this past weekend, and her first in 3D. She’s a fan of most Pixar movies and, while we weren’t originally keeping an eye on this movie (unlike Finding Dory), Brooke read a few blog posts suggesting that Inside Out may be helpful for young kids (girls, especially) to visualize their feelings, especially as young people tend to get rushes of emotion and don’t necessarily know how to deal with them, or how to express the complexity of what they’re experiencing.
Inside Out centers on an 11-year-old girl, Riley, whom we meet at birth. At that time, we also meet Joy, her one and only emotion. Over time, other emotions appear as Riley gets older: Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Ultimately, these five emotions work together to help Riley navigate her life, frequently conflicting on how exactly Riley should be “controlled” in a given situation. Sometimes Disgust needs to take over (when broccoli is presented to Riley), while other times, Fear is the one in control. All of this action appears in a “Control Center,” of sorts, where each emotion works at a control board to control Riley, and new memories are formed and sent off for storage.
The action balances between Riley and her interactions with her peers and parents, and the emotions inside Riley’s head. Without spoiling the finer points of the plot, the writers provide an interesting take on Riley’s entry into adolescence, giving the viewer an intriguing take on how a kid can go from jubilant and goofy, to morose and reserved.
As an adult, I can recognize this shift pretty clearly, as someone that went through it at some point in my life. It’s intriguing to think back on how my emotions changed during the first decade-and-a-half of my life, where memories come from, how you forget things over time, how things just “pop in there” randomly.
Meg, however, didn’t get any of that. At the age of 5, she simply isn’t aware of it yet. Oh, she has emotional outbursts, but the experience of a 5-year-old is different from what was presented in the film. She hasn’t gone to school yet. She hasn’t had similar situations quite yet as what Riley goes through. I suspect that she’ll appreciate it much more in the next few years, but right now, to her, it was “just a movie.”
Overall, I think it was really good. It blew over Meg’s head, but I certainly appreciated it. The voice actors they chose for each emotion were spot-on, between Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Bill Hader (Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), and Lewis Black (Anger). I don’t think they did much motion capture of the actors while reading these lines, but I saw them in each of the oddly-shaped cartoons as they spoke.
Hopefully, in a few years, Meg will appreciate it on different levels upon subsequent viewings. I guess that’s as good a mark of a successful film as any.