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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Inside Out: Review

Inside Out begins as a narrative filled with fun, adventure, and excitement as Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) begins her journey in this big world. The narrator and lead character, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) captures the audiences’ love and sympathy as she navigates both Riley and us throughout the movie. Shortly after Joy’s introduction, we are introduced to all the other emotions as they play an individual part in Riley’s childhood development. The director (Pete Docter) shows us that emotions help shape each of our cherished or worst memories. Docter then goes on to explain how memories are processed and stored, figuratively and metaphorically speaking. Because each emotion can create its own memory (or so she thinks), Joy seizes this opportunity to fill Riley’s young years with joyful recollections of each significant moment. To Joy’s dismay, Riley’s memories can’t always be filled with happiness.

As the film progresses, we notice that the plot is orientated around love, family, hobbies, and identity. Docter conveniently weaves simple explanations to explain the Psychology and Sociology behind each of Riley’s character formations, family bonds, hobbies, and her personality. Each scene, plot twist, and major event in Riley’s life gives us a small glimpse into the major psychological processes and sociological developments. Also, the movie doesn’t end the way most expect.

As more and more memories are created and made, Riley enjoys an exciting, innocent, and carefree, prepubescent life with Joy as the major emotion in control. Through unseen circumstances, Joy and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) are swept away to be placed into long-term memory or possibly complete elimination. Along their journey back to Main Headquarters, Joy discovers that her joyful memories were only made possible by Sadness’ involvement. There wasn’t a joyful memory that didn’t contain Sadness’ expertise. Together, Joy, Sadness, and Bing-Bong (voiced by Richard Kind, a mythical creature composed of an elephant, a dolphin, and possibly a bear) show us the major process of a growing mind. They navigate us through the Long-term memory, Synaptic Pruning, and Neurogenesis. Each term is briefly introduced by the characters and skillfully interwoven into their dialogue to help us understand what each process does.

The plot then shifts to where Riley’s other emotions, Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) begin to accidentally tear down each of Riley’s main character islands. The film pulls us to mourn as each milestone in Riley’s childhood is destroyed and broken off. We can feel ourselves racing against time with Joy and Sadness to save and rebuild each island. Apart

from its visually and aesthetically appeal, the film binds each audience’s emotion to the skillfully created characters as they each experience a myriad of troubles and difficulties. As Joy experiences her conflicts, she and the audience both learn and grow to realize the process of making memories. We are left with two important lessons. First, our “core memories” always involve more than one emotion and secondly, working together with those around helps us accomplish our goals. This film sympathizes with each of our childhoods and it causes us to reminisce about our youth. I believe that this film relates to every age, it helps us to value our families, it encourages us to work with others, and it helps us understands ourselves better.

This film does an excellent job of explaining the complex concepts of Psychology and Sociology in simple terms and connecting the audience to its characters and story plot. But one aspect that really stood out to me was the educational detail put into teaching people how our minds work. After all, Joy and all the rest of the emotions join in on creating a simple, learning environment for each major process in the human mind. Bing-Bong and the “workers” in the long-term memory touch on definitions and function of each role in the mind. All of these explanations are skillfully hidden within the conversations and dialogues of the characters. This aspect is very much expected with Pixar films. Education and teaching are heavily intertwined with comedy and entertainment when it comes to Pixar films.

Inside Out is not just another conventional film. This family orientated movie truly brings out important aspects of family and teamwork. Hilarious scenes between Disgust, Anger, and Fear move the plot along and set a friendly atmosphere; Bing-Bong’s memory-lane trips to Riley’s childhood help us relate to our once imaginative, creative, and sassy personalities that most of us have probably left behind; and at the end of the film, the combined memories made between Joy, Sadness, and all the emotions draw us to embark on a journey to better understand who we are as individuals and a family.

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