There are some movies that feel like just the act of watching them makes you a better person. Since we had a Pixar-less 2014, such a wholesome family meal of a film has been long overdue. Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter and Filipino Ronaldo del Carmen (Pinoy Pride, yay!), thankfully, is probably Pixar’s wisest movie to date, and it gives us a very adroit lesson in child psychology without turning down the fun factor.
The Plot: A Girl’s Mind Explored from Inside and Out
The premise is quite strange, like many of Pixar’s past efforts (I remembered thinking rats in a kitchen was not an appetizing idea for a movie), Inside Out follows the life of Riley, a sweet Minnesota kid who moves to the big city of San Francisco. Well, that is what is happening in her outer world. The real story lies in her inner world, where in Riley’s mind, she is being operated by a set of anthropomorphized emotions, namely Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. This being the life of Riley, Joy has largely been at the helm, but when things start to go awry in Riley’s psyche due to the stress of her move, both Joy and Sadness get lost in Riley’s long term memory. Both need to get back to the command center, although the good of Sadness being there we don’t really know just yet, and the unlikely duo have to race through Riley’s mind map as aspects of Riley’s personalities crumble in response to her difficulties.
Inside Out can be seen as a return to form after the disappointment of some of Pixar’s later efforts (like the horrendous Cars 2). The jokes come regularly and cleverly, the animation and action are things of beauty and the character development, well, it is practically a whole movie about character development. The only question I have is whether kids will enjoy it; there is a lot of psychological jargon here I doubt younger kids can understand, like “core memories” and “aspects of personality”. I have heard from friends with kids that they do enjoy the visual spectacle of the film, even if they don’t quite grasp why it is all happening. For older children though, it is a good, cinematic primer on emotional understanding.
Ancient Wisdom in Youthful Form
Wisdom comes in many forms, and cartoons have got to be one of the most enjoyable shapes you can take it. I learnt in a most graphic way how sadness really plays an important role in the development of our personalities. In a modern world that sells happiness by the bottle-ful and encourages positive thinking, it is refreshing to get a story that harks back to more classical notions of balance. After all, one cannot have joy without sadness, as it is the sadness that helps us see how much the good times mean to us. Indeed, sadness makes our lives fuller and brings meaning to joy. Yup, thanks to the makers of Inside Out, the most ancient of philosophers Heraclitus would be proud that his tested wisdom is getting through to the kiddies, both small and big alike, “The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony.”
Inside Out is showing in Cebu cinemas this weekend August 21-23, 2015.