Directed by: Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen
Written by: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Produced by: John Lasseter, Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Richard Kind, and Kaitlyn Dias
The whole time watching Inside Out, I was wondering about what I was watching. Sometimes when I talk or debate with people about politics or culture or current events, I can sound abstract when I say things. And in my training in film studies, I was taught to read between the lines, using theories pertaining to filmmaking. I also learned that media, at all times, is trying to sell you something. Couple that with history, knowledge and your own experience one can come up with an analysis. And at times sometimes by the way my thoughts are articulated, I can come off abstract. I work hard on that. I don’t want to be Big Snooty. However I can’t help it. If I see it, I see it. I was definitely not trying to analyze Inside Out. It was #JordonAndDanyleGototheMovies day. Danyle is Bae, haha. But I did however see things, which made me wonder what these dudes—Pixar and Disney—were trying to say about human psyche, human emotion, and humans. Inside Out, for the most part is funny, and creative, and some ways reminds one a Christopher Nolan film, for its understanding of theories, and their possible cultural implications. Inside Out It’s about a girl, Riley voiced by (Kaitlyn Dias) who moves to a new town, and how the move effects her. Before this we see moments of Riley growing up which introduces us to her characterized emotions, who seemingly control Riley’s moods, which effects the way she processes the world, and her memories. Joy (Amy Pohler) is the boss. She along side Fear (Bill Hader) Anger (Lewis Black) Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), man the controls and determine how Riley will feel and understand life. Everything is all is good, at least to Joy’s standards ( I just want Riley to be happy) until Sadness starts to get bored with her role. She barely has one. When she gets ahold of a core memory, things start to change. She turns a happy core memory into a sad one, which the others do not understand and sends Joy on a rampage of positive intent to keep this from happening, and in doing so, marginalizes Sadness. This doesn’t work, as Sadness keeps on touching memories, which begins to upset the mode of operations until, in an effort to quarantine Sadness, and keep Riley happy, Joy ends up getting she and Sadness pulled out of the control center, which renders Riley indifferent. The two co-workers must return back to the control room in order to get Riley to a normal self—but what is a normal self?
Inside Out is as good for its story, bare minimum animation, and good writing (not overly witty, and not simplistic) as it is partially bad for its message. During the journey, Joy and Sadness meet Big Bog (Richard Kind) Riley’s former imaginary friend who becomes their guide through the mind. From “Imagination Land” to the center of abstract thought, a “short cut” (hahaha) to the Train of Thought, and the sub conscious, Big Bong acts a bridge for Joy and Sadness to work their relationship. The relationship each other and themselves, in which either experiences personal sadness, or personal joy, during their own separate interactions with Big Bog. Writers and directors, Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen, seem to be saying balance. The fact the Joy and Sadness recognize themselves after crucial moments with the imaginary friend, harkens to the ideal that imagination is key to understanding life–Pixar and Disney’s bread and butter. The lop side to this–and this is something I saw in Tomorrowland as well—is that in order to be able to be understand life—to get out of one’s own way—is to relinquish control to something more powerful. In Tomorrowland it was artists, and innovators kind of like the ones in the Silicone Valley, and in Inside Out, it’s your emotions. Who ever heard of balanced emotions? Nobody is Jesus are they? Or Buddha? The philosophy of balance, was never about being in control, (since no one can do that) nor was it ever about pacifism. As funny as the scene with the two parents voice by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan at dinner with Riley is– the special effects bringing us into the mind of either parent where we see a panel of emotions planning out what either will say, is also very false, and in a way condescending. Basically, no one can think for himself or herself, and in order to experience life you shouldn’t. Let someone else do the thinking. While Joy has a lot to learn about letting go, and Sadness has a lot to learn about being affirmative, the film acts as one big judge of what happiness is and isn’t. How can someone determine that for a child? It’s one big proponent for imagination. As if nobody, not even a kid, has one.