by ERIC GUZMAN
Being touted as “a major emotion picture,” “Inside Out” explores the role each emotion has and its importance of in a person’s mental health.
Directed by Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc., Up”), “Inside Out” is a coming-of-age story that colorfully illustrates the struggles of adolescence by imagining the little voices inside one’s head. The film follows 11-year-old Riley, whose life is unexpectedly changed when her father’s new job forces the family to relocate from their home in idyllic Minnesota to unwelcoming San Francisco. The film’s real focus, however, lies in Riley’s head as her emotions, Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, work together to help her adjust to her new life.
After a traumatic first day at her new school, Riley’s mind effectively shuts down sending Joy and Sadness deep into the recesses of her psyche, thereby leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear in control. As a result, Riley begins to withdraw from her parents, entering a period of loneliness and despair. As Riley learns to deal with her newfound emotions, “Inside Out” hopes to express the notion that each emotion has a special purpose and that it is only through the interaction between all of one’s emotions that people can truly connect with one another.
Having lived a perfectly joyous life up until then, Riley’s transition to San Francisco signifies her first encounter with unhappiness, as she copes with the loss of her friends and her beloved sport of hockey. This is revealed in the roles each emotion has. Joy is tasked with keeping Riley happy, Fear secures her safety, Anger ensures all is fair, Disgust protects her from being poisoned, but no one knows exactly what is the role of Sadness.
Often people view sadness from a negative standpoint, believing that it is something that is inherently reprehensible and unhealthy. However, “Inside Out” aims to challenge that perception by asserting the notion that sadness is needed in order to overcome difficult hardships and is a necessary component for the healing process. Sadness and joy are intertwined and one cannot have one without the other. Instead of avoiding sadness, individuals should embrace it as a vital part of being human. As Sadness’s purpose is explored throughout the film, “Inside Out” hopes audiences will attain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role emotions play in their own lives.
Reaching people on an emotional level, “Inside Out” is perhaps Pixar’s most relatable film to date, tugging on the heartstrings of both parents and children in a film that visualizes the mind but touches the heart.
“Inside Out” is rated PG and will open in theaters everywhere June 19.