Dark Animation: Inside Out

Pixar Animation Studios has been responsible for making many of the movies that were a part of millennial’s childhoods. Pixar has made a very big name for themselves through poignant animated films that offer messages about the world that kids are going to experience. Inside Out is no exception to this.

The story starts off simple the backstory of a girl named Riley from birth until she’s 12 years old. The story is narrated by Joy, one of the emotions living in Riley’s head responsible for her happiness. Joy works with Disgust, Anger and Fear to make sure Riley is healthy and happy, while also trying to figure out how Sadness fits in the occasion. Joy and Sadness have a bit of a rough start being the first two emotions Riley ever experienced.

When Riley moves from her home town to San Francisco, there is a lot of emotional chaos that causes an accident between Joy and Sadness. The two get lost in Riley’s head and have to find their way back to Headquarters where the other emotions are. Meanwhile, Disgust, Anger and Fear try to keep Riley happy during the difficult struggles of moving to a new city and adjusting to middle school.

The premise of the story is interesting, and the writers certainly create the world that is inside Riley’s head. There are various interesting looks and ideas that make for an incredibly creative and inspired environment with all kinds of different aspects to it.

The characters themselves tell an incredible story that give a happy ending while also giving a unique message that has not often been seen in children’s films: It is good to be happy, but it’s not good to ignore sadness and try to force happiness.

The film’s creators wanted to make sure that the movie was completely accurate with the understanding of emotions which took a lot of work over the course of a few years. The film creators made sure to take in input from experts such as Paul Ekman who is a well-known psychologist who studies emotions.

Ekman identified early in his career six core emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, joy, and surprise. Director Pete Docter felt that surprise and fear were too similar, so he took out that emotion from the final cut of the movie.

The way the film examines emotions is very unusual, giving each emotion, while it has its primary purpose in its given name, it also experiences other nuances as well. Joy, while well-intentioned in her purposes to keep Riley happy, does not understand the importance of feeling sad and how one should recognize other emotions instead of covering it up.

Often in the media, we receive the idea that it is best to be happy and positive and not let anything bring you down no matter the circumstances. However, it is understood that this is not psychologically healthy. Not acknowledging when one is sad or angry or afraid can be damaging to one’s overall development of emotions.

So the film shows that Sadness being repressed by Joy causes her to act out. This gives Riley sad memories and eventually causes Riley to go into a depression. Everything comes bursting forth at the climax of the movie as Riley confesses in tears to her parents how much she misses her home in Minnesota after trying to run away.

The animation in the movie is nothing to snub at either. Each character looks unique with physical representations of their such as Joy being based on a star, Sadness on a Teardrop, Disgust based on broccoli, Anger based on a brick and Fear based on a shiver. The characters themselves do not look entirely there, and when close-ups are shown, you can see little particles coming off of their skin, giving a very distinctive look and design to these characters.

The film is overall a lovely family movie with a great message about the importance of keeping an emotional balance while also showing a grand adventure for kids and giving older audiences a nostalgic reminder of what it was like to grow up and change in so many ways. The film is an excellent family flick with a great deal of hard work and care put into its making, and promises to be a very memorable movie for generations to come.

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