Inside Out: Sadness makes me happy

The film that personifies emotions has been a wild success, it was a handful of sold out shows before I was finally able to get myself a seat. After five attempts-yes five-I was finally able to see Pixar’s newest release, Inside Out (Docter, Carmen 2015). Perseverance paid off and it was as great as I thought it would be. In summary, it’s the story of an 11-year-old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) and the five emotions inside her head: Joy, Fear, Sadness, Disgust, and Anger. Riley’s emotions reside in ‘Headquarters’ the team captain being Joy (expertly voiced by an ultra-peppy Amy Poehler) she and the others are responsible for Riley’s emotional state and how she handles life. They record and maintain memories (different color orbs depending on how she felt when the memory was made) and keeping her core values or as the movie calls them, ‘personality islands’ functioning properly. Five emotions, countless memories, and five personality islands: Family Island, Friendship Island, Honesty Island, Goofball Island, and Hockey Island. I thought it was spectacular that this movie portrays the fun of innocence and is centered on a husband and wife family that is supportive, and includes the importance of morals. Also, I love that Riley is not a princess but more of a tomboy and as far as sports to love Pixar chose wisely, there’s none more fun than hockey.

After enjoying everything from long-term memory land to the weird realm of abstract thought, I was curious about how others reviewed Inside Out, 

Psychologists in particular, given the setting is the mind of a preteen female. Psychology Today said: “It’s an “all-or-none” deal. If we numb sadness, we also numb joy. We need to openly experience all our emotions, and that includes sadness, as painful as it may be sometimes. Sadness allows for connection, when we see someone else feeling sad, we might feel sad too (this emotion is called empathy) and might want to alleviate their sadness (this is compassion).” 

Pixar does a great job of illustrating compassion, or empathy in action. There is a scene where Sadness reaches out to Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong (voiced by Richard Kind) because he was sad and she thought maybe she could help. Joy who was convinced permanent optimism was the only way to live, realizes Sadness does play an important role in Riley’s mind after all. Why those five emotions out of the entire spectrum of what humans feel? “The 5 emotions used in this film are in fact 5 of the 6 scientifically validated universal emotions (the 6th one being surprise).” The writers were originally going to do six characters but they felt surprise fit in with Fear. Another interesting Neuro fact from Psychology Today was the comfort or ‘cuddle hormone’ known as Oxytocin that is released when we want too or are in the process of hugging someone. Here’s the full article on emotional truths.

Some fun stuff about Inside Out

  • Disgust is both the color and shape of broccoli (voice by Mindy Kaling) also, Pixar made a minor scene adjustments for their Japan audience since broccoli is a preferred food.
  • Anger (voiced by Lewis Black) is shaped like a brick and the newspapers he reads throughout the film feature headlines describing Riley’s daily life occurrences.
  • Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) is tall and thin like a nerve.
  • Joy resembles a star and her voice belongs to Amy Poehler. In her role as Joy she is as animated as her other character Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation when she has waffles and whipped cream. Joy is like a yellow-skinned blue-haired version of Tinker Bell. The visual affect resembling bubbly champagne that is most noticeable on Joy was not cheap to do.
  • Sadness, my absolute favorite (voiced by Phyllis Smith who played a character named Phyllis on The Office) is shaped like a teardrop.


    Melancholy is sort of a miracle

Newsweek had a compelling take after interviewing half a dozen psychologists who each saw the movie separately. “Not everybody is born with the same control panel as everybody else,” Kalikow said. “Some people are born happier. Some people are born more irritable.” This excerpt got me thinking, what emotion did or does control my panel of feelings? Who would be my team captain? It’s hard not to identify with the colorful character’s reactions to certain things, like the rage of anger or the panic of fear. Perhaps it depends on the stage of life, or an impactful event. For example, when I was younger Anger ran my life but I honestly believe Fear was in control the whole time. These days, although I resonate with all five characters, it is Sadness that I feel closest too. In the movie Joy views Sadness as an obstacle, which makes sense because they’re opposite. Joy even tries to keep Sadness contained (she draws a chalk circle and tells her to stay in it) so she doesn’t ‘get in Riley’s way’ but I saw that cute little blue girl as anything but a problem. Sadness is the simplest adjective to describe my myself. I would say my personality is melancholy, not quite sad or depressed, also not a jovial bouncing ball of radiance. I’m just more thoughtful and empathetic and creative-all positive sides to Sadness.

At first Sadness acts as glum as the teardrop she’s faintly shaped like, but Pete Docter, co-director Ronaldo Del Carmen and the other writers for Inside Out, Meg LaFauve, and Josh Cooley knew that this story was going to go far deeper than any river worth crying. No one could’ve done a better voice than Phyllis Smith (Phyllis from The Office) such perfectly amusing downcast tones with a hint of self-pity. The character herself is adorable, perhaps I’m biased because blue is my favorite color but I also love her off-white loose turtleneck and hair that resembles chrome navy colored dreadlocks, complete with those hipster glasses. She doesn’t wear pants. Why don’t they ever wear pants? “Sadness, both a nuisance and a downer, proves its (and her?) worth as the film progresses; Joy realizes that Riley can’t adequately communicate her mental state without it. Several experts emphasized the lesson that plot point contains.”

    Riley’s soul went missing

There’s so much that Inside Out brings to the table but what about what isn’t there? Could there have been more? I’m in no way trying to downplay the five years of work it took the writers and team o forty-five animators to complete. This movie is one of those movies that if I had any idea how to write a successful movie I would’ve written this movie. However, there is a whole other piece that seems so very necessary to add when discussing the inter-workings of a human being. What about the soul? Inside Out omits spiritual reality. Perhaps explaining advanced neurological complexes in ways kids would understand was hard enough and explaining faith, something even the most invested never fully grasp, was just too much. Still, I don’t think it would’ve been out of line to mention the moral compass, they did include Honesty Island; why not bring up where honesty comes from? If it were my movie I couldn’t justifiably explain anything going on in Riley’s life without talking about her soul. An excerpt from the above link: “Now, I wouldn’t ever expect Pixar to go in this direction because of who they are and who owns them, but their depiction of a person’s inner world also completely ignores the spiritual/faith side. The film presents a broadly appealing, quasi-naturalist view of what comprises the inner life of a human being.” The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. It’s the foundation of where the movie’s characters are derived from, yet it is never talked about. “The depiction of Riley’s inner world sort of deifies emotions, and it quietly suggests that this emotional schematic is “all there is” to us — that nothing else happens inside us: no influence from the “extra-dimensional” plane of spiritual existence (i.e. spiritual warfare Ephesians 6:12, Matthew 12:43), and certainly no indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) whose Voice — that still, small voice — can have more influence than a thousand emotions…” What about memory? Do so many fade and then disintegrate, disappearing forever as the movie suggests? Not really, not when you remember God, the one who lasts forever and makes sure we last forever too. I guess without acknowledging the soul and the Creator of it, we’re simply left to tumble into the dismal wasteland that is an overflowing graveyard of vanishing past memories.

Yes, Inside Out omitted spirituality but it did make it appoint to include honesty. All things considered this really is a great movie. It’s simple, adorable, and fun. Plus there’s a lot of truth to the way our brains work. Memories made during the day are cemented as we sleep, and hockey is in fact the best sport ever. Most favorably is how things end for Riley and her memories, they change, becoming blends of Fear and Joy, Anger and Disgust. It shows that we as people are always changing because our perspective on things doesn’t stay the same. “I like the idea that basically Sadness saved the life of this child,” Dr. Haddad said. “I thought that was a brilliant ending in the movie, to see the importance of having a feeling like Sadness. That’s what connects us many times to families, to sad events, to friends, to understanding the meaning of empathy.”



whoever buys this for me will be my new best friend. whoever buys this for me will be my new best friend.

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