“Inside Out” may be Pixar’s most creatively abstract film to date. The notion that the main action would all take place inside the main character’s subconscious is fairly radical. Add to that the main character was an eleven year old girl, it’s amazing the film got a green light. That had to be one really good pitch meeting to get everyone on board for that one. We know now, of course, that choice was a good one both critically and financially.
“Inside Out” was not only an enjoyable movie to watch, but encouraged (at least in me) self-reflection on my own emotions. It did not escape keen observers that ech person in the Anderson family had a different emotion ‘driving’. For Riley, it was Joy. For her mom, it was Sadness. For her dad, it was Anger. Niether of Riley’s parents seemed overly emotional, so what did it mean that they had different emotions in charge? Fan theories abound and range from childhhood trauma to deeper understanding of emotional health. Personally I have wondered if it is a reflection on how each of them are dealing with their own emotional reactions to the move.
We see in Riley’s head how each emotion takes over the console at different times and in different situations. Perhaps as we get older and tend to dwell on events and their impacts longer the driving emotions take the controls for longer periods of time. Anger is driving Riley’s dad, not because he is a generally angry person, but because he is angry that the moving company didn’t fulfill their obligations, his new job has changed their requirements, and the house is not what he was given to expect. He is dealing with that anger, but at that moment in time it underlies everything that he is doing. Perhaps in a week or a month, Anger will relinquish the controls. Maybe I’m over thinking. One thing I noticed is that no matter which head we look inside, the emotion that is never driving is Fear. That makes a lot of sense to me.
Fear’s accomplishment for the day is managing not to die. Not talking to people. Not trying new things. Not achieving goals. We didn’t die? It was a good day. This makes sense to me.
When we are afraid, we do not strive. When fear is in the driver’s seat we are satisfied with the smallest of accomplishments. Fear does have its place. There are days when simply making it through the day is all the accomplishment we need and that is fine. However, we cannot live there all the time. There must be more to life than fear. There must be those moments when we allow other emotions — Joy, Sadness, Anger, and even Disgust — to trump Fear and be brave enough to do something else. While Fear does keep us safe, it also limits us. It keeps us from becoming more. Fear is not a driver and never should be. It is a guide and an adviser, but we should never let it run our lives.
Did you enjoy Pixar’s take on our emotions? Tell me here: