“Inside Out” Movie – It may not be what you think . . .

inside out feeling control panel

I decided as a family therapist I should go check out the new movie, INSIDE OUT. As I knew I would have children talking with me about what they saw and their reactions to it. Plus, a nice lead in as to talking about feelings. What I found is that INSIDE OUT is probably really suited  best for older children and adults. I found lots of adult couples taking the show in the day I went. And for good reason, the messages are really best for those with some abstract reasoning.

The show is coming from the perspective of 11-year-old Riley’s feelings. The “stars” of the movie are: Joy, Fear, Angry, Disgust, and Sadness. Riley’s mind or “command center” is directing her actions. Riley has just moved to a new city due to Dad’s new job.  Riley’s past experiences have been happy ones in general and the move and transition to a new city and new school has her confused and upset as she tries to transition to her new life.

You might ask so what are some of the core messages that someone might come away with? Well for me I found the following:

inside out joy and sadness looking at memory globe

  1. All feeling are helpful. It is sort of interesting that in this movie, Sadness  turns out to be the hero and saves the day. We sometimes feel we have to work hard not to be sad, when really we need to let our children and loved ones know it is ok to be sad. That sometimes acknowledging the sadness can help us back to the happy feelings we want to have. And yes, there is a time when we need to move past sadness and move on to more positive feelings. Our feelings let us know if we need a course correction. And sometimes this is a bit of a journey.
  2. We are constantly making memories and those memories will have our own individual filter, which may be different from others.  I think that as parents we have to remember our children and for that matter our spouses or partners will not always see things as we do.
  3. “Being With” our loved one is one of the most important things we can do when they are going through a hard time. I do think that in the end this message comes through with the 11-year-old Riley connecting with her parents and beginning to feel better.
  4. It is never too late to process our feelings and make sense of them.  Even if we have gone through a hard time and things are not going well, we can always shift gears and come back and understand what has happened and work through it.

I like to tell my clients (children and adults alike) that feelings are our friends. They are our emotional guidance systems. They help us know what is really going on with us and what we may need to do to get back to where we want to be.

All this said, this movie is not a light, happy-go-lucky movie. And some feel it is sad or a bit dark. I had an elementary aged boy tell me recently he thought the movie was sad. When I asked which part, he said lots of parts. This was his individual perspective. There are some fun, humor parts. Some of these parts of intended for children and some for adults. The movie does has more depth than some folks would anticipate though.

I did feel the movie probably over simplified how memory works. And put a bit of a dark spin on it. Even though I do know that negative memories do have more affect on us than the positive ones. One reason we want to try to keep the happy memories at a much higher level to keep them in place in our brains.

inside out riley and her family

http://www.commonsensemeda.org is an organization that can be helpful at times in giving some thoughtful insight for parents in movies that come out. Some of the parents on this site who reviewed this movie had some concerns about the incident were the main character 11-year-old Riley steals her mom’s credit card and runs away and when she is re-united with her parents that they do not have a discussion with her about these actions. Another reviewer talks about preschool children crying over sad incidents in the movie. Most of the positive reviews tended to come from parents who had older elementary children or teens.

Note:  As with all movies parents have the huge responsibility of deciding what is a good fit for their individual child and what they are ready to see. Not an easy thing. This movie is probably best for children who have some abstract reasoning in place.

We can always have discussion with our children after viewing a movie. I think one of the best part of a movie is the dialogue it creates. So if you feel there was a missing piece then by all means talk with your child about it.

If you are not feeling sure what you think as to your child seeing this movie, you could do a date night and go see it as parents first. This I think is always a helpful strategy for a movie we are not sure about. I do feel this movie does a nice job of highlighting for parents some of the core messages I mentioned above.

Best wishes in deciding if your child is ready for this one. If they are, there are some good core messages to glean from it.

Please note that pictures are taken from the Disney / Pixar website.