Over the weekend, I took my
11yo 12yo to see Inside Out the latest Disney / Pixar movie.
I’ve been a fan of Pixar movies ever since The Incredibles came out. I like how they don’t hide from real issues and build the movie to be enjoyed on multiple levels with various age groups.
As I heard around the inter web, I expected to see a mix of grown-ups and kids. I expected to hear both laughing and tears. I expected to do a little of each myself, truth be told.
What I didn’t expect was my 12yo to wipe his eyes. Or tell me afterwards that it was tough to watch and that he could have cried more.
Regardless of what you think about the movie’s portrayal of the human brain (as there are positive and negative reviews to be found), it brings forward some really key issues about the role of emotions in our lives.
I (Stacie) am a deep thinker by nature. I “fall” into a subject and learn as much as I can about it, building and connecting ideas, thoughts, facts, opinions, like real world LEGO bricks. I enjoy this part of myself. After the movie, I couldn’t help but think about the concepts presented through the character’s emotions, and did some deep thinking about my life. That sort of self-refection isn’t the norm for me after a movie; I appreciated the forum that Pixar gave to people for this type of reflection.
It’s no surprise to adults, but life is hard and it isn’t always happy. The movie did a great job of showing how different emotions work together (eventually) to build memories, sort and store them. The memories were hard spheres like marbles, and played back parts of the character’s life like video clips. It made me wish that memories really worked that way, allowing me the chance to replay some of my favorites in their original state. Unfortunately, memory doesn’t actually work this way. Much like Neurologica explains, bubbles that allowed for changes and adjustments would be better.
I recognize too that while we have a frontal lobe that provides executive function, it is also true that our emotions can and do control us. They play a valued function in our day to day experience, and all emotions are good; a message heard by movie attendees.
What really stood out to me, however, wasn’t that Sadness saved the day or that Joy tried to run the show. No, what stood out most was that the core memories that defined who the person is changed with time. There is a point in many people’s live where they are forced to make a choice that will change them irrevocably. In the movie, that meant core memories changed too. People have the option to change a core memory, and thereby change their opinion of themselves.
It is apparent to me that people are more complicated than the movie made out, however, a key take away for me was that the movie provided a great platform for my 12yo and I to discuss some of the changes he is going through. It isn’t easy to be an adult and have to run my house. It isn’t easy to be a 12yo either. The movie opened options for us to use the characters and storyline as a tool to discuss some of those changes.
And that’s what makes it great.