“Inside Out” is Pixar’s Most Important Film

Note: This is not a spoiler free article. Sussing out your emotions can be a incredibly difficult thing to do. So often our instinct is to suppress our sadness, fear, anger and disgust because our lives are busy and it’s more convenient to deal with unpleasant emotions later on. We tell ourselves and other to “just be happy,” “suck it up,” or “be a man!” Children especially are told so often to “stop crying” rather than really accept their feelings. This might save some time, but the damage we’re doing by pushing these emotions to the side takes a major toll on us. What Pixar’s newest film “Inside Out” does is bring this damage to the forefront and advocates for being emotionally honest with ourselves and others. “Inside Out” takes place primarily inside the mind of 11 year old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a girl who has just moved to San Francisco with her family and is grappling with the major change in her life. Riley is controlled by her five major emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Each emotion operates Riley’s reactions through a control board and Joy tends to lead the group’s decisions. This usually means Sadness doesn’t get much time at the wheel, as Joy loves Riley so much she just wants her to be happy. Up until the move, Riley has had a pretty good life. She loves hockey, has a strong relationship with her friends and family, has an honest but goofy disposition and is described by her mother (Diane Lane) as their “happy girl.” Most of Riley’s memories are happy and represented by yellow orbs, yellow standing for joy rather than blue (sadness), red (anger),  purple (fear), or green (disgust). Joy is very proud of this fact. However, once Riley starts to realize how much her life is changing because of the move, things get a little hectic for the emotions inside her head. After a scuffle over Riley’s long term memories, Joy and Sadness are accidentally sucked out of Headquarters and into Riley’s long term memory bank along with all of Riley’s core memories, the ones that make Riley, Riley. With Riley in major distress, Joy and Sadness must find a way back to headquarters or she may never be happy again. What makes “Inside Out” such an important film is that it shows just how important actually talking about one’s emotions is. There is such a huge stigma on mental health that we often don’t want to talk about or listen to anything but what makes us joyful. We see Riley’s mother compliment her daughter on being so happy despite the difficult time their family is going through, and while the sentiment is well intentioned, it ends up making Riley feel like she can’t be sad around them. With Joy and Sadness stuck in long term memory, guiding Riley’s actions falls to Anger, Fear and Disgust, showing how children so often lash out during difficult times and how depression isn’t just about being sad. The longer Riley isn’t able to feel Joy or Sadness, the harder her life becomes. Unable to express what she’s truly feeling, she starts to lose her favorite parts of herself. She drops Hockey. She dumps her best friend back home. The strong bond she has with her family starts to crumble and she begins to lie to get what she wants. By the end of the movie, Riley is about to run away.

Anger isn’t always the best leader.

What’s more interesting than what’s happening to Riley on the outside, is what’s going on between Joy and Sadness inside the young girl’s head. While Joy is a kindhearted character at first, it slowly becomes apparent that she isn’t the greatest leader when it comes to Riley’s best interest. She is constantly pushing Sadness out of the way, determined to make only happy memories for Riley. She even draws a circle on the floor and tells Sadness to stay inside it on Riley’s first day of school to keep her from ruining things for the little girl. What Joy doesn’t realize is that sadness is just as important in life. When Joy and Sadness run into Riley’s old imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), he leads them to Riley’s Imagination, which is under demolition. When Bing Bong’s rocket is tossed into the forgotten memories pit, he is incredibly upset. As one of Riley’s less used memories, he feels as though he’s becoming obsolete and the loss of the rocket just further drives in that idea. Joy tries to cheer him up by acting goofy and telling jokes, but Bing Bong isn’t hearing any of it. He continues to be upset until Sadness walks over and sits next to him. “I’m sorry about your rocket,” she tells him and finally Bing Bong opens up about his fears and grief; how he misses being a part of Riley’s life and all the memories they used to have together. Instead of trying to force Bing Bong to be happy, Sadness validates his feelings. “That must of been really hard,” she tells him and after a good cry, the imaginary friend is able to pick himself up and continue to lead them back to Headquarters. Joy is baffled by Sadness’ success.

Joy and Sadness work together.

The biggest message in this film is, “Embrace your emotions.” It’s great to feel joyful, but it’s also okay to feel sad, angry, fearful or disgusted. What’s wonderful about “Inside Out” is that it isn’t until Sadness is accepted by the other characters that any of them really find any solace. When Joy finally gives up being the leader and gives Sadness free reign over the control board, Riley is able to leave what would have been a dangerous run-away and goes back to her family. Once there, she opens up to her parents about how she wants to be happy for their sake but misses her life back home. The memories that used to bring her joy are now just sad. When she finally allows herself to be upset and her parents are there for her, a new core memory rolls into headquarters. Instead of being one color, it’s part blue and yellow; equal parts sad and joyful. It’s this new memory that fixes “Family Island,” the part of Riley’s personality that stands for her supportive familial bond. It isn’t until Riley accepts the fact that her life is complicated with a mix of different emotions, that she’s able to feel okay again. Afterwards, we see Riley thriving in her new environment. She’s playing Hockey again with her parents cheering her on. Inside of Riley’s head, we see the five emotions working together to help Riley score a goal. Along the walls are dozens of multicolored memories. The emotions have finally learned that each of them have value in Riley’s life. With the major stigma on mental health, this film might be Pixar’s most important project to date. It can be hard to open up a dialogue about our emotions and for children, being emotionally honest is an incredibly important message to instill. “Inside Out” serves as a good example and spring board for parents to talk to their children about the importance of letting yourself feel. Not to mention, it’s an incredibly well crafted story that both kids and adults will enjoy. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much during a children’s film. Films like “Inside Out” spread the message that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. Depression isn’t something anyone should be ashamed of. Emotions are something we should be talking in depth about, even at a young age. “Inside Out” provides the resources to do that, making it an incredibly profound and important film in today’s society.

Photos by Disney Pixar.

Monthly Movie Preview: September 2013

Hey guys! It’s been a whole year since we’ve done this, but with the rise in good independent films and nerd-based movies, we feel like now is as good of a time to get back on it as any. While action films tend to rule supreme, September is a month of promising documentaries and indy films, making up for the super-saturation of action movies this summer.

September 6 – Riddick

Starring: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Dave Bautista (WWE wrester)

The third installment of the trilogy following Diesel’s Riddick around a desolate future where vicious creatures rule the darkness. The Riddick series has garnered quite the cult following and it’s not without reason. The sweet special effects, a strong protagonist and a fully-enveloped world helped the previous two films, Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick, carve out a niche in the sci-fi world. Riddick‘s story starts with our main character left for dead on some God-forsaken planet, killing lost of nasty alien creatures and humans that get in his way while he saves a planet from being described. Ya know, pretty much every sci-fi plot since science fiction was a thing. While this film will definitely create some buzz, like most of Diesel’s other flicks, I don’t expect it to make too much noise. That said, this will definitely be a movie I will want to see in theaters. I’ve really enjoyed Diesel’s performances of the first two films and I can’t wait to see how the third one plays out. – S

September 6 – Salinger

Starring: Martin Sheen, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Judd Apatow, many other famous people

Salinger is a documentary centered around the secluded life of legendary author, J.D. Salinger, whose book, The Catcher in the Rye, after multiple murderers (one being that of The Beatles’ John Lennon) claimed that his book inspired them to carry out the murders. It will be a pretty in-depth look at the man behind the myth. Salinger has been described as being “exhaustively researched” by one of its critics; this is something that Adrian (an English major and readaholic) will geek out about, and viewers who are not as well-versed in literature, like me, can look forward to learning a lot from it. The documentary’s director, Shane Salerno, has been working on the film for over eight years, and has co-written an extensive biography on Salinger. Salerno describes the film as a view “inside J.D. Salinger’s private world and shine light on a man named Jerry who lived in the shadow of the myth of J.D. Salinger.” Our book nerds will have a review to look forward to on this film for sure. – S

September 13 – The Family

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones

A fun spin on mob family comedies, The Family is a tale about a man (played by De Niro) that informs on the mob and enters the Witness Protection program, moving his family to France in order to remain anonymous from the crime family that he snitched on. The best part about the trailer is that his whole family is a bunch of jerks. Their mob mentality hasn’t gone away at all, and from the previews, it’s a pretty humorous look at mafia mentality translated to other areas of life. Surprisingly, laying low doesn’t last long. Explosions and hilarity ensue. It doesn’t look ground-breaking or anything, but it is an original spin on a dated idea. It could be worth a look. – S

September 13 – The Muslims Are Coming

Starring: A buncha Muslim comedians, political comedians (John Stewart, Lewis Black, etc)

The Muslims Are Coming! is a documentary/stand up comedy centered around Muslim comedians trying to break the race barrier with humor. It’s been years since I’ve seen a stand-up movie in theaters, but as an Arab-American, I feel pretty invested in this. The Muslims Are Coming! started off as a Kickstarter campaign, believe it or not. While it’s sold as a stand-up comedy, my guess is that a majority of the film will use personal encounters with Southerners and a slew of celebrity interviews to try to eliminate Mulsimophobia in the film. It also brings to light the issue of acceptance of Westernized Muslims by traditional Muslims. Muslims raised in America often find themselves trapped in the middle, not being accepted by either traditional Muslims or the mainstream American population. It looks to be a pretty decent movie, boasting, “You’ve never laughed this hard at a Muslim.” – S

September 20 – C.O.G

Starring: David Sedaris’ genius, Johnathan Groff (The Conspirator), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars)

It’s amazing that a film based off anything of David Sedaris’ life is being made at all.  If you are unfamiliar with who David Sedaris is, let me clue you in.  Sedaris is a bestselling author of creative non-fiction.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say his writings are all memoir, because memoir doesn’t necessarily make people laugh.  Sedaris has written about all his odd jobs, his life with boyfriend Hugh, his time in NYC and Chicago, and his family and childhood in North Carolina.  The reason there has never been a film made of his books and/or stories is because he always felt that his family would be mocked rather than acted and he never wanted them portrayed that way.  That being said, I don’t believe Sedaris’ family will take much of a role in C.O.G.  C.O.G. stands for Child of God.  As a fair warning, this movie is probably not for bigots, homophobes or religious zealots.  The story of C.O.G. will be a mixture of stories David wrote about his early 20’s working the apple season in the northwest and then carving clocks with a friend he makes.  That being said, I cannot wait to see this film.  Sedaris is my favorite author and i know he has had a lot to do with the making of the film.  Be ready to laugh hysterically, be shocked and even come away enlightened. – A

September 27 – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2

Starring: Bill Hader (SNL), Anna Farris (Scary Movie), Andy Samberg (SNL), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your MotherDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), Terry Crews

As the month’s lone family film, Meatballs 2 looks to pick up where the second film left off. Flint and the rest of Swallow Falls return to a land they had to evacuate after Flint’s food machine forced the population out of town. When they return, it gets all Land of the Lost meets the Food Channel. The entire island has evolved and food creatures now rule over the treacherous land. Every creature is some silly play on names, the most hilarious being the Tacodile… SUPREME! It looks to be full of laughs for the whole family, with a few SNL alumni to keep things fresh for kids and adults alike. I really enjoyed the first installment, so I expect the sequel to repeat the formula that made the original so successful. – S

September 27 – Don Jon

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza

Setting aside my total man-crush on JGL (yeah, he has his own acronym), I’m genuinely excited to see Don Jon. In his writing and directing debut, Gordon-Levitt also stars as a sex-addicted bro-guy who unexpectedly falls for Scarlett Johansson and has to decide if he wants to live his life through porn or whether he wants to settle down with a decent girl. Of course, any time you mention Scarlett Johansson and sex-addiction in the same sentence, I’m sold. In all honestly, though, this looks to be a different approach. I’m sure there will be gratuitous sex in Don Jon, but I think that it will be limited. I see Joseph Gordon-Levitt adding depth to a seemingly shallow film. Don Jon looks like it will be a fun independent film, and hopefully will put JGL on the map as more than just an awesome actor. It’s the film I’m most excited for this month. – S

September 27 – As I Lay Dying

Starring: James Franco, Danny McBride

You may have thought right off the bat that a movie starring James Franco and Danny McBride would be a sequel to this summer’s This is the End.  But a second glance at the title, and you may be reminded of William Faulkner’s classic American novel of the same name.  As a bibliophile myself, I am always excited to see moviemakers ideas about a book.  William Faulkner is one of the best authors in American history, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make a quality film of his genius.  James Franco not only plays the main character, Darl, but he also directs the film.  The main plot is a family of brothers and sisters must bury their dead mother in a nearby town.  Keep in mind that the book was written in 1930, so this will be a period piece.  I look forward to seeing where this adaptation takes the viewer. – A

September 27 – Rush

Starring: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Daniel Brühl (famous German actor), Olivia Wilde (Tron: LegacyButterHouse, drooooool….)

Blah blah blah, Olivia Wilde, blah blah blah, racing. Wait, what? Olivia Wilde? Sold! Rush is a Ron Howard film about the rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda that is more about the two driving each other to be the best than it is about winning. Lauda is severely injured in a crash (actual footage shown below) and he tries to make a comeback, with the help of Hunt pushing him. While it looks like it would make a really cool ESPN 30 for 30 documentary,  I don’t know that I could watch the movie without thinking of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Help me, Tom Cruise, it has Olivia Wilde in it, so I’m automatically interested. – S

That’s quite a bit of movies for September! Look out for October’s preview in a month.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear