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Inside Out! (2015)

Inside Out stars Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Lewis Black as Anger, Bill Hader as Fear, and Richard Kind as Bing Bong - the imaginary friend who is part cat, dolphin, and elephant. It’s the story of a young girl, Riley, and her parents after a move from a town Minnesota that loves hockey to San Francisco. Riley is run by Joy with input from the other feelings on occasion but it’s after the move that Sadness becomes more pronounced - unable to refrain from touching joyful memories and turning them into somewhat nostalgic ones. It’s a great film by Disney - Pixar that could potentially influence children’s understanding of their multiple and dynamic emotions. While they may not understand in totality children are certainly capable of recognizing how Riley’s changes and actions with mood are related to their own. Inside Out reminds me of a few child psychology and infant developmental psychology courses I took as an undergrad. It’s evident that they did their research when creating this film to ensure it’s accuracy.

Disgust, Anger, Joy, Sadness, and Fear

Disgust, Anger, Joy, Sadness, and Fear

These five emotions are present in each individual’s mind we are given access to. While the mother is led by Sadness she isn’t necessarily a sad person; the father has Anger in charge but he isn’t an angry person. This film does a great job at highlighting and simplifying the complexities of emotion in a way that is both entertaining and engaging for children and adults alike. I found it particularly notable that Pixar included an imaginary friend, Bing Bong, as a fairly prominent character. Not only does this send the message that imaginary friends aren’t something to be embarrassed of it provides a way to understand that their disappearance, while sad, frees up space for other memories - like Riley’s friendships with fellow hockey players.

With Sadness and Joy on a journey to find their way back to the hub to maintain emotional balance, Disgust, Anger, and Fear are in control. It’s the rise of sarcasm! Kaling as Disgust is perfect: her annoyed disinterest providing perfect comedic energy with Black’s unmanageable outrage as Anger. These two could be a movie all on their own with Hader as Fear fumbling and mumbling in the background and I would have laughed throughout - but then the story would have been incredibly different.

Who's your friend who likes to play? Bing Bong! Bing Bong!

Who's your friend who likes to play? Bing Bong! Bing Bong!

I definitely recommend watching Inside Out, even if simply to see how a team of artist’s visualize the inner workings of the mind.