Re-watching Inside Out during the time of COVID is a much bigger challenge than before COVID. I deliberately chose to watch this movie to help try and figure out how I am doing emotionally. It worked and I think I have a slightly better grasp on how I am feeling. Sadness can lead to Joy and it is a critical emotion. Then again it is a kid’s movie and there are plenty of oversimplifications for an adult audience. It is still a great Pixar movie.
An eleven-year-old girl, Riley, has just been moved from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents. Meanwhile, inside her head we have been introduced to her five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. They are voiced by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling. Everyone was type-cast based on other work we have seen them in and it works.
Joy tries to keep Riley happy all the time. She is unwilling to allow Sadness to take a turn at the emotional controls of Riley. Joy and Sadness find themselves stranded outside of the control room and must go on a journey back to the controls. The movie explorers how important sadness is to all our lives. The movie does avoid the topic of death, but it touches on disappointment, feeling alone, and being an outsider.
We get partial glimpses inside the control center of Riley’s parents. I do not like how the mom’s default emotion is sadness and the fathers are anger. I feel like that undercuts some of the learnings in the movie. That puts a bad spin on how a child may view their parents. It also makes it seem like this is a loveless marriage if the Mom defaults to sadness. The angry father is also overplayed through film.
The movie does simplify emotions. I understand why, but sadness may need more complexity. There are other aspects to it. Sadness could take over from anger or fear, but sadness is only demonstrated as leading to joy. I am reading into the movie deeper than they wanted, but that is a good thing to think about and could have been included. Life is not just happy or sad.
I encourage you to go watch it while you are stuck at home. It lives up to Pixar expectations. It may also help any kids you have better understand how they are feeling about this situation on their own. This is not a replacement for other kinds of bits of help.