While I was writing my Fairytale posts (which I should really finish) I wasn’t particularly positive about Disney’s representation of the princesses. I was positively scathing about their Snow White. And I’d like to point out that actually of late Disney have been pushing out some beautifully crafted characters. But yesterday I was reminded of what is probably the best children’s film I have ever watched and Disney’s only real input was to distribute it. Inside Out was brought to us by the wonderful minds at Pixar.
Strangely, although there was a good amount of hype around Inside Out, it didn’t achieve the success it was due in my mind. And I know it had merchandise everywhere, it topped rotten tomatoes 100 best animations list, it scored 98% on the site, and it received numerous accolades including an Academy Award for best animated feature. All that, it deserved. But almost two years on, aside from the die hard fans on tumblr, it’s been all but forgotten. And that is a travesty.
The lessons it taught not just kids but grown adults too about emotions and how to be mentally healthy are far too valuable to praise and forget. They are lessons to take through an entire lifetime. So as a reminder for those who know what I’m talking about already or an introduction to the film for those that don’t I want to run through the things it taught me. There will almost certainly be some spoilers in this so you could watch the film first if you haven’t already.
- All of your emotions have a purpose and you should allow yourself to express them. Inside Out told us the story of 11 year-old Riley through personified emotions in her mind. And by allowing us to see her emotions in this way we learned with Joy that Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger are just as important to maintaining a person as Joy herself. Joy’s goal is to keep Riley happy and make everyday a happy day. But it’s just not a realistic goal and eventually something’s gotta give. Joy learns that she needs Anger, Fear, Disgust and most importantly Sadness to keep Riley safe and happy.
- It’s okay to be sad. This is probably the most important lesson to learn from the film, you can tell this because it comes right near the end and it’s the most emotional moment of the film. It’s only when Riley can no longer pretend to be happy and cries apologetically to her parents that we realise bottling up your sadness prevents you from receiving the support you need. As soon as her parents know she isn’t happy they are there for her, supportive of her and understanding. Riley is worried her parents will be mad that she is sad because they asked her to keep being her happy self. But they let her know it’s okay to be sad.
- Maybe don’t put pressure on your kid to be happy. Riley’s mother can understand that their big move across country is a stressful time for her husband. She accepts that he is busy working and she accommodates for his schedule. She also knows her daughter is a happy go lucky kid who didn’t really want to move. So she innocently asks Riley to just keep being the happy girl she knows. And it was an innocent remark, I don’t want to villainise the mother. But Riley is young, removed from her friends and hobbies. She is sad and needs to be allowed to be sad. Riley’s attempts to please her mother and remain happy just makes everything worse.
- Feelings change. What was once a happy memory for Riley becomes somewhat more bitter-sweet. She had fond memories of her hockey team which became tinged with sadness because now the memory reminded her she was no longer living near her friends and hockey team. So also Memories can cause more than one emotion.
- People change. In the beginning Riley’s mind is governed by five emotions and her personality is governed by five important aspects of her life. Family, hockey, honesty, friendship and goofyness. Depression slowly erodes these aspects of her personality and Joy desperately struggles to keep her together. But in the end we realise that as Riley grows other things become important to her, some things lose importance and she is becoming a different person. And there’s not a thing wrong with that.
- I wish I had an imaginary friend. Bing Bong was my favourite character in the film and his dedication to and love of Riley was heart-warming and awe inspiring. The only thing that mattered to Bing Bong was Riley’s happiness and health, everything else was insignificant.
There are so many more lessons to learn from this sublimely imaginative and informative film but I know you can figure them out yourself by watching. The most important reason this lesson shouldn’t be forgotten is because I think it should actually be on school curriculum across the globe. This film breaks emotions down in easy to understand personalities with simple names. It teaches kids how to label their emotions and express them. It teaches kids how to understand what’s going on inside their heads and tells them they are allowed to feel what they feel.
It’s assumed too much that kids haven’t got anything to worry about so they won’t be anything but happy. But we know that’s wrong. And people who understand their emotions and how to cope with them are mentally healthier and stronger than those that don’t. So isn’t it a good idea to teach kids? This film does that. And for that reason in my mind it’s the best children’s film I’ve ever watched. If I have a kid, they’ll definitely be watching this film, and because they’re a kid they’ll no doubt watch it on repeat until I don’t like it so much…
The only down side to this film was that I realised Joy isn’t in charge in my head. Fear and Sadness are reigning as King and Queen