By: Mary Kate Dorr – A&E Editor
If we’re being honest, I truly wasn’t expecting much when I went to see Pixar’s newest film, “Inside Out.” It was a Sunday night, my mom and I were bored and it seemed like a decent way to kill two hours. I wasn’t expecting to love it, or even like it really, and more than anything, I was not expecting to relate to it. After all, it’s about the thoughts of an 11-year-old girl, and I’m a grown 20-year-old girl with mature thoughts like “Did my boss notice I wore this shirt yesterday?” and “How many times can I get carry-out this week before I go bankrupt or spontaneously combust?”
These thoughts belong to 11-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a goofy hockey-lover from the great state of Minnesota. But before we meet Riley, we meet her five emotions: Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and the HBIC of all-things-Riley, Joy (Leslie Knope, formerly known as Amy Poehler). How embarrassment isn’t one of Riley’s emotions is beyond me because I swear that’s all I ever felt when I was 11, but whatever.
Joy, played by Amy Poehler, is one of the scary voices that incited the reviewer’s anxiety. Screenshot courtesy of Disney’s official ‘Inside Out’ site.
These emotions reside in the control room, or Riley’s brain, where they store daily memories and help her handle how she’s feeling at any given moment. Riley’s memories are typically happy, and Joy intends to keep it that way—that is, until Riley’s dad lands a new job…across the country in San Francisco. Suddenly, Riley is in an unfamiliar city, without the comfort of her best friend, hometown or, thanks to a lost moving truck, her own bed.
Does this ring a bell? Don’t lie to me, folks. We’ve all been there.
Meanwhile, Joy is going absolutely nuts because Riley just isn’t happy anymore. She’s confused, scared, nervous and, most of all, sad, so Joy has to try to keep Sadness, the overly dramatic rain cloud, away from anything that could affect Riley’s temperament any further.
Sadness is obviously the bad guy…right? At least, that’s what Joy thinks. But as things continue to go from bad to worse and Joy can’t help Riley on her own, she realizes she needs Sadness. That sometimes it’s important for Riley to feel confused or hurt. That change isn’t always an easy circumstance to accept. But it’s part of growing up.
So here I am, ugly-crying in a movie theater, surrounded by little people who believe in Santa Claus, because Pixar did it again. They created a universal message that might even reach the older generation of movie-goers first.
Not that I have scientific proof or anything, but I’m pretty sure change hits us college students the hardest. We’re moving cities, states, houses, jobs, meeting new friends, embarking on new relationships, saying goodbye to your home and your childhood. It’s a time unlike any other, and it can be scary as hell. Change is constant, it is important and it can be absolutely wonderful. But the process of change? Well, that can be terrifying and sometimes just really, really sad. What this movie is saying is that not only is it OK to be sad or distressed, but that it is a fundamental step for moving on from one place in your life to the next. That it’s okay to cry and binge-eat and call your mom because you’re coping, and, in a few days (weeks or months, more likely, but I’m trying to be optimistic), you’ll be feeling that lightness in your chest again.
“Inside Out” is the best possible combination of entertaining and thought-provoking. And it is guaranteed to make you smile—and reflect.
Weren’t we all just that scared 11-year-old?