Movie review: Inside Out

Summary: Good movie for watching in the right context. I recommend it.

Spoiler scope: This review discusses the main themes of the movie. You can probably still read this review and enjoy the film, or it might convince you to watch it. If it’s a movie that you’re been really jonesing to watch, then I’d recommend watching it before you read the review.

A friend and colleague saw this movie before I did, and his criticism was that it seems often producers are intentionally pulling on your heartstrings, and if this happens too often, the sad story line thing becomes a bit of a cliché.

He cited Grey’s Anatomy as an example, where almost every episode has a tear jerking plot. The overuse then makes one, as the viewer, become a bit cynical about plot, being aware that they’re being emotionally manipulated in order to produce an apparently ‘deep’ story.

I enjoyed Inside Out. The story absolutely does have an tear jerking story line. But given that it’s a movie about emotions I think that it was appropriate.

It’s essentially a coming to realisation story, where the main character, Joy (one of the girl’s five emotions), having tried to minimise Sadness’s influence of the girl’s experience at the start, comes to realise that Sadness is also a useful emotion that has its place.

This is an appropriate and profound message for today’s society.

Often in today’s society, there is pressure to always put on a happy face and be positive about everything. Emotions like sadness, jealousy or anger are frowned upon, and people feel that there is something wrong with their character if they’re experiencing these emotions, ‘Why aren’t I more in control of myself?!’.

The psychological technique of mindfulness is the awareness and acceptance of one’s emotions in a given situation. The way I like to think of it, is observing yourself as an external alien looking at your life. For example, if at work and you’ve just been told off and you feel upset, or maybe you feel indignant. Mindfulness is being aware that you’re feeling this way, and putting that in perspective, and not allowing it to overwhelm you, or make you feel that your life is out of control. Just accepting the emotion, and then deciding how you want to react or manage it.

I think that’s what this movie was getting at. While sadness might not be pleasant emotion, it’s still an emotion which should be appreciated and seen for what it is. I thought the movie did a good job of taking you on this journey.

Animation-wise I thought that the movie could have been better. The animation of the human characters was very good. In fact, the very first scene of a baby, I wasn’t sure if it was animation or photography. The inner emotion world on the other hand, seemed a bit blurry.

The movie has set itself up well for a sequel, or a series of sequels. While this movie dealt with the acceptance of the emotion sadness, there are other emotional dynamics that can be explored. For example – teenage heartbreak, stress or success. A spinoff into mental disorders could also be interesting, though would probably not be popular family demographic.

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