Inside Out

Inside_Out_2015_film_posterI have come to expect great things from Pixar; I think everyone has. All of their films have been amazing, from Toy Story to Ratatouille, each Pixar movie has entertained and delighted. That isn’t to say that some films weren’t better than others. Wall-E isn’t exactly the kind of film you watch over and over again, but you can’t call any of their movies bad. That’s a lot of pressure for an animation studio as it churns out its latest movie. But once again, Pixar comes through with Inside Out.

Inside Out is about the emotions inside of your head that make you who you are–Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. These little guys control your feelings and actions; they are what make you tick. This story focuses on Riley, a twelve year old girl from Minnesota, and the emotions in her head. Riley is a happy kid who loves her family and playing hockey. Riley’s family moves to San Francisco, which, as you can imagine, really sends the emotions of a 12-year-old spinning. Amidst the chaos inside Riley’s head, Joy and Sadness get separated from headquarters and lost in long term memory with Riley’s core memories–the memories that shape her personality. Now, Joy and Sadness must work together to get back to headquarters before it’s too late for Riley.

As expected of any Pixar movie, Inside Out is very funny. The whole theater I was in was laughing out loud, kids and adults. It’s very fun, but also pulls on the emotional heart strings. The voice acting is very good, starring Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Mindy Kahing as Disgust, Lewis Black as Anger, and Bill Hader as Fear. Every character is entertaining, and it’s very funny to get a look at the emotions in other people’s heads (stay for the first few minutes of the credits). And much of the humor is very clever, so it will entertain adults as well as children.

Inside Out - Emotion Poster Collaboration

The only thing I didn’t like was one of the characters who helps Joy and Sadness, Riley’s childhood imaginary friend Bing Bong. I understood the purpose his character served in the plot, but he was too, too weird–like a pink cotton candy elephant. Even in the fun, imaginative world of Riley’s head, he didn’t fit with the rest of the characters. I’m sure the kids in the theater liked him, but I thought he was too weird and discolored the flavor of the middle part of the film.

But Inside Out isn’t just a funny children’s film. As also expected from Pixar films, it had an important message. The message may surprise children, but probably not adults. The message was that sadness has a place in our lives. While we want children, and adults, to be happy all the time and not suffer the pain of feeling sad, sadness is a part of life. And even though it hurts, it serves a good and noble purpose. It makes us sympathetic to others, empathetic to others. Because we have felt sadness, we can comfort those who are sad. Sadness also lets others know we need help, so they can comfort us. It can bring people together as much as joy can.

sadnessjoyLife is a mixture of every kind of emotion–joy, anger, fear, disgust, and sadness. They all serve a purpose. Inside Out is a must-see movie for children and adults.

The Importance of Childhood

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

“To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

I throw this C.S. Lewis quotation at any adult who questions my love of Young Adult fiction or Disney movies. Lewis recognized the value of childhood, a child’s wonder and joy. He understood that many people lose this quality—the ability to see the joy and wonder in the world around them—as they grow up. Too often people forget what it’s like to be a child as they grow older, and their thoughts are filled with bills and deadlines instead of wonder and hope. But childhood is precious and needs to be protected. That is the premise of the Dreamworks animated film Rise of the Guardians.

rise-of-the-guardians-poster3Rise of the Guardians follows the story of Jack Frost, a boy with ice powers who wakes up with no memory of who he is or what he’s supposed to do. All he knows is that the moon called him. So for 300 years he wanders around creating snow days and snowball fights for kids. But when a new threat arises, the Guardians call on Jack to join their ranks to fight Pitch Black and his plan to destroy the hopes and dreams of every child in the world.

Jack joins the team of guardians—a pirate Santa Claus, an Australian Easter Bunny, a feathered Tooth Fairy, and a miming Sandman. Together, they set out to stop pitch as he tries to destroy hope and create fear.

rise-of-the-guardians-pitch-poster-191x300One of the reasons I love this movie is the animation. It’s spectacular. Each of the guardians is unique, and the script is funny and deep at the same time. It’s a story about Jack discovering who he is and finding purpose in his existence. It’s a story about friendship and teamwork.

But at its heart, it’s a story about the preciousness of childhood. The Guardians exist to protect the children—to protect their hopes and dreams, to protect the joy and wonder they see in the world. And in return, the children protect them. Because the wonder of childhood is a strong force for good in the world, and we can’t forget that as we grow older. After all, eventually, inevitably, children become adults. But they become better adults if they don’t lose the things that made childhood so magical in the first place. If grown ups can put aside the fear of childishness, they can find joy in Disney movies, in Young Adult literature, in summer, in Christmas, and in all the world around them.

So go play. Go dream. Remember what it’s like to be a child.