Inside Out (2015)
June 19, 2015 5:39 AM - Subscribe

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
posted by jbickers (77 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
*pours out juice box for Bing Bong*
posted by leotrotsky at 6:24 AM on June 19, 2015 [27 favorites]




Why The Key Character In 'Inside Out' Is The One Who Isn't There

Fascinating, because it looks like the spirit of Miyazaki is coming to full bloom within Pixar:

Here is a children's film made for the world we should live in, rather than the one we occupy. A film with no villains. No fight scenes. No evil adults. No fighting between the two kids. No scary monsters. No darkness before the dawn. A world that is benign.
posted by jbickers at 10:50 AM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just returned from my 2nd viewing. I liked it better a second time. I imagine I'd like it even more if I were a parent.

My favorite thing about Pixar artistry is the showing off they do. With subtlety and artistry, not wiz bang effects. The deep dark gully, with only the light of joy, and the globes turning to smoke would never have made it in most animated feature films.
posted by DigDoug at 4:21 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Watched it with the kids - it was probably a bit much for the 4 year old, who got restless 2/3rds in, but the 9yr old LOVED IT, as did I.

Is say it's probably the best Pixar movie since... I don't really know when. Badly needed after them getting buried in workmanlike sequels.
posted by Artw at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


On the technical side I love the brushstroke effects and haziness of the head characters.
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


♪ ♫ Tripledent Gum,
it'll make you smile!
Tripledent Gum,
it lasts a while!
Tripledent Gum,
it'll help 'ya mister,
to punch bad breath right in the kisser!
Tripledent Gum! ♪ ♫


Sorry what?
posted by percor at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


The shirt was a bit naff as Pixar shorts go. Also they tend to use those a technology try-outs, but I can't figure out what they were trying that was new there.
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I very much enjoyed it this afternoon and now consider it the movie to beat this summer. (Albeit, I did not see the other highly reviewed movie, Mad Max.)

I don't see it being a movie that young children can enjoy, and figured seven or eight might be the minimum age for viewing. As the dedication of the film, at the end of the credits was something akin to, "To our children, never grow up, ever." It's very much a film that I expect will strike hard and true at the hearts of parents in the audience. I look forward to showing it to my parents, who only watch animated films when I hoist them on them over the holidays.

The animation was superb, but not necessarily mind blowing. I didn't think there was any incredible new animation sequences, but rather, they excelled in what they did with the animation, be it from the directing to the 'abstract' moments of the film. The voice actors all did a stupendous job of becoming the characters. I saw and heard Joy, not Amy Pohler, for example.

I was shocked that I got caught by the imaginary character's death. I absolutely did not love his character design, but I had to wipe a tear away after "sing louder, Joy!" He got me. He got through my cynical disgust oriented dislike for his appearance and made me care. Or rather, Pixar made me care.

The plot for Riley kind of touched on my own experience in high school, when my family moved away from all my friends and sports and everything. Mike Ryan over at Uproxx had it hit even closer to home and wrote a pretty emotional review, worth reading.

What I appreciated with the other emotions, as much as they wanted to stand in for joy, they could never truly become more than what they were, and act accordingly. It wasn't 25% of Joy, or 50% of Joy, etc, it was 0% Joy, and 100% Fear, Disgust and Anger, trying to do it but failing. I loved the message concerning feelings as one grew up, as things became more complicated and so do memories and emotions.
posted by Atreides at 6:00 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


P.S. The Lava short wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as Feast or the Umbrella shorts of previous films. I enjoyed it.
posted by Atreides at 6:02 PM on June 20, 2015


I'm maybe being a bit harsh on it, but it's usually a bot of a highlight of any Pixar outing and this time... wasn't.

The Good Dinosaur trailer was fun though.
posted by Artw at 6:12 PM on June 20, 2015


It was very different, in part because of the narration entirely by song, so I don't think you're being overly harsh. For the most part, both the Disney and Pixar shorts have been stupendous as of late. (Ugh, I guess I missed the Good Dinosaur trailer - I was a tad late!)
posted by Atreides at 6:35 PM on June 20, 2015


Holy crow, but this movie hit me right in the feels. The idea that sadness needn't be isolating, or final, or defining, and that it can even - if you let it and if you're lucky enough to have a robust Family Island (for however you want to define "family") - be an opening to joy and community and a letting go of shame...... yep. 11-year-old me would have really benefitted from seeing that idea presented and embodied in such a clear, sweet, and nuanced way as this movie managed to do.

30-year-old me, on the other hand, would have really benefitted from having the foresight to remember to bring tissues to the Pixar movie. *sigh*
posted by Dorinda at 9:59 PM on June 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


I don't know if I've ever seen more people getting teared up in a movie. Not bad, as it was an excellent movie. It just hit close to home on a number of things. We have young-uns at home, and we think it'll create a pretty nice context for talking about emotions in the future. We've always tried to include this, but having a kid-fun context on hand is a definite cultural contribution, besides all the fun it just was to watch. Some of the funniest stuff was in the credits. And I have girls only, so maybe it hits me pretty close to home, as I've seen some of the angst in her over feelings of anger and frustration that I've bumbled through like her dad when he sent her to her room.

We saw the move at El Capitan today, and there's a store next door where you can buy the individual characters. I realized what a brilliant marketing movie this is, as the whole spirit of the movie is that the emotions work in close collaboration with each other, and we don't define ourselves with simply one thing, like joy. So, when we were looking to buy, it put something of a question on whether we want a child to just get a sadness or anger doll. Are we compelled to buy more of them?
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:02 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tears leading to nearly-out-right-sobbing at the end. I never moved as a child, but I'm in graduate school in a different state from where I grew up in a different state from where I went to college, and as I'm getting near the end of the program, my friends are slowly moving away for jobs. Yes, technology helps-- and we do see Riley videochatting with her friend back in Minnesota-- but it's not a replacement.

Loads and loads of little one-off gags-- Anger's Newspaper headlines ("NO DESSERT!"/"EXPERTS AGREE DESSERT GOOD"), the memory workers clearing out all of the presidents except for "Washington, Lincoln, and the fat one", the imaginary boyfriend who lives in Canada, Hobo signs on the train of thought car. And then the sequence during the credits-- yes, I'm pretty sure that's exactly how my cats' brains work.
posted by damayanti at 6:21 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


A.O. Scott's review resonated with me, especially this:
But the insistence on happiness has its discontents. As a manager, Joy is focused above all on controlling and containing Sadness. ... That’s a pretty powerful metaphor for repression, of course, and “Inside Out” turns a critical eye on the way the duty to be cheerful is imposed on children, by well-intentioned adults and by the psychological mechanisms those grown-up authorities help to install.
I object to feeling emotionally manipulated by most kids' movies ("The Lego Movie," you are guilty here, and lost me at THAT plot development), and I admit that when I first saw Joy, I thought "Oh, God, not another perky white girl who just wants everybody to be happy." For me, it's like those pep squad girls of my childhood, or like that sunrise girl from Allie Brosh's "Depression" series--just clap harder, and be happy! (Which led straight to, "Huh, Joy does look a little like Tinkerbell.") In short: Ugh, again?

And so I loved the scene between Sadness and Bing Bong. It was a long-awaited example of feeling with rather than compelling feeling, and lo, it became dusty in the movie theater and water fell out of my face. Because when a pet dies, I never feel like I say what's on my heart to my kids, and while I don't reach for off-the-shelf consolations, I also have a hard time seeing their pain and knowing that these losses are the first of many greater sadnesses, and it's a relief to me to say something that comforts. I hope they will remember me not running away from their feelings. Sitting with such strong emotion is hard and it is necessary. That's a hell of a lesson for a summer movie.

More tears from the bus epiphany through to the end. I saw it with another mother, and all of our kids, and she and I were big weepy messes by the end, just like every other adult in the theater.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:56 AM on June 21, 2015 [16 favorites]


Why is it I can remember the Tripledent jingle, but not the darned BingBong, BingBong song?
DAMN YOU, HEADQUARTERS
posted by DigDoug at 4:54 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seemed to me someone making the moving had a lot of experience with depression--that seemed to me exactly the state Riley is in when Joy and Sadness go missing, where everything was flat and the world became much harder for her to inhabit.

Even the bus scene struck me as a suicide metaphor--specifically, all the stories of jumpers who survived, and realizing after they leaped that they could address all of their problems, except the fact that they were now plummeting. (Obviously Riley had a way to halt the action here.)
posted by stevis23 at 6:52 AM on June 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Here is a children's film made for the world we should live in, rather than the one we occupy. A film with no villains. No fight scenes. No evil adults. No fighting between the two kids. No scary monsters. No darkness before the dawn. A world that is benign."

You could make the argument that CARS filled this role well years ago. Competition is structured and the only true adversary for McQueen is himself. There's the possibility of injury but never any sign that it's not completely possible to overcome (repair) it. It seems to amount up to getting pushed down by someone who wants to get to the monkey bars before you; wrong and upsetting but nothing to cause existential dread.
posted by phearlez at 8:44 AM on June 22, 2015


I cried, I admit it, and what's more I didn't see that particular twist coming.

Also I'm amazed that they snuck in the "there are no bears in San Francisco/I saw a real hairy guy that looked like a bear" line.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:54 AM on June 22, 2015 [23 favorites]


I actually loved the "Lava" short. The song has been stuck in my head since I saw it a week ago. It's just a simple tale of a lonely person who hopes for love...and almost misses it...but in stone. It's wistful and sweet, not really that complex at all, but the photorealism with the sealife and the water was pretty amazing.

I even bought the song on iTunes.
posted by inturnaround at 11:35 AM on June 22, 2015 [5 favorites]




It doesn't surprise me that they had a team of psychologists as advisers to the writers. Something about the "I didn't do anything, I just listened" when sadness had comforted Bing-Bong told me that they just got it.

I really enjoyed this movie (even more than a certain dinosaur-based adventure that I also saw this weekend) and the more I think about it, the more I like it.
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:26 PM on June 22, 2015


Why is it I can remember the Tripledent jingle, but not the darned BingBong, BingBong song?
DAMN YOU, HEADQUARTERS


It seems to me that headquarters was as frustrated as anyone else regarding that particular jingle. It was the dudes working in the basement messing with everyone.

I was holding youngest while watching this, and she cried after the movie was over. I asked why she was crying, and she said it was because the movie was sad. She has never cried at a movie before. So she was hugging me as I held her, and I said back to her, "That's okay, I felt sad too." And I realized that I just said that because that's how the movie handled it, and I learned something helpful as an adult.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:11 PM on June 22, 2015 [31 favorites]


Who's your friend who likes to play? Lyrics
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on June 22, 2015


Note that Sadness is head in the mother and that Anger is in charge in the father.

Bing Bong has an orange petal in his flower pin....but that emotion never showed up.
posted by brujita at 6:34 PM on June 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bing Bong has an orange petal in his flower pin....but that emotion never showed up.

They were selling Bing Bong dolls next door to the theater I saw it at. He actually smelled like cotton candy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:06 PM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also I'm amazed that they snuck in the "there are no bears in San Francisco/I saw a real hairy guy that looked like a bear" line.

That got big guffaws at the theater where we saw this tonight, in Chelsea.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:23 PM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed it, but man oh man, I thought this movie was going to take us to a dark place. Once they introduced the emotions, and how they worked to help her get through external situations, I thought we might get a real problem to deal with. Actual depression? Family member death? Molestation, even? Overestimating my children's movies, perhaps.

(I would like to see any of those movies.)
posted by graventy at 7:41 AM on June 23, 2015


I loved the glimpses into other characters' minds, though I was a bit disappointed to notice that prepubescent Riley's inside-people are gender diverse, but the adults' inside-people are all the same gender.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:18 AM on June 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I thought that the new "power" Sadness has after the move was a interesting way to portray depression. She suddenly has the power to transform old memories into sad ones just by manipulating them. Sadness herself seems unable to control herself as well (and it must be a new thing as it freaks out Joy so much), so it seems like depression was taking over in ways that Riley and her emotions didn't know how to handle. Presumably this goes away when Joy and Sadness come to terms because they don't seem to have the problem as the movie ends.

Or maybe that's just supposed to represent how things like reminiscing about things you can't go back to are sad or at least bittersweet. In any case I liked it a lot. Saw it in a theater full of families on Father's Day and there was much blubbering. Also I loved the slight glimpses into other heads at the end, and I was sure Sadness was gonna push the puberty button before a cut to black. Hope the sequel is as good!
posted by DynamiteToast at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought that the new "power" Sadness has after the move was a interesting way to portray depression. She suddenly has the power to transform old memories into sad ones just by manipulating them. Sadness herself seems unable to control herself as well (and it must be a new thing as it freaks out Joy so much), so it seems like depression was taking over in ways that Riley and her emotions didn't know how to handle. Presumably this goes away when Joy and Sadness come to terms because they don't seem to have the problem as the movie ends.

I think it was meant to portray the way that emotions can actually work together in a healthy way. So, Joy was always trying to make everything fun and pain free, while ignoring the fact that it's not psyschologically healthy to make this the overarching goal all the time. And the big lesson at the end, I think, is that Riley found real contentment by engaging the sad with the good, because it allows us to connect with people who can comfort us in that sadness. Her memories that were initially portrayed as positive were seen to have some level of transcendent goodness in them because there was sadness, also. Riley was smiling at the end as she was hugged by her parents, because she realized her mom's well intention but misguided request to 'try to just be happy for your dad, as this is hard on him too' wasn't the right path to emotional health. It was being honest and being comforted in a way that transcended Joy's shallow understanding of how true contentment is produced.

I hope there's a sequel, too. I think it was probably pretty intentional that they ended it with talking about her being twelve years old as things seemed to be resolved...
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:23 PM on June 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I hope there's a sequel, too. I think it was probably pretty intentional that they ended it with talking about her being twelve years old as things seemed to be resolved...

And it will look like those old school health films, and be titled "I Am Riley's Puberty."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:23 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


it looks like the spirit of Miyazaki is coming to full bloom within Pixar

jbickers, the sleeping clown was a riff on the Totoro, no?
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:43 PM on June 24, 2015


it looks like the spirit of Miyazaki is coming to full bloom within Pixar

jbickers, the sleeping clown was a riff on the Totoro, no?


Not only that, but the entire opening sequence - young girl driving to a new town she doesn't want to move to, laying down huffily in the backseat of her parents car while they drive, arriving at a city with a lush and green stair-stepped cityscape - felt very much like direct homage to the opening of "Spirited Away." Just lovely.
posted by jbickers at 8:34 PM on June 24, 2015 [17 favorites]


"Grim Grinning Ghosts" playing during Riley's first nightmare was a great surprise.

I was pulled in completely for the entire duration of this, huge grin on my face when I wasn't blubbering over Goofball Island collapsing, or Bing Bong's sacrifice (among like half a dozen other little throat-lump moments).

"I'd die for Riley."

"FOR RILEYYYYY..."

(If I'd read those quotes out of context before seeing the movie I'd think, "Oh, whatever that's about, it'll probably be a big emotional moment..." But nope, they were actually some of the biggest laughs in the movie for me.)
posted by doctornecessiter at 5:49 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I loved the glimpses into other characters' minds, though I was a bit disappointed to notice that prepubescent Riley's inside-people are gender diverse, but the adults' inside-people are all the same gender.

It's hard to tell because they were only shown for a few seconds, but they are gender-diverse. They all just had mustaches and button downs (or glasses, in the mother's case, I think?).
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:34 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the IMDb trivia page:

When asked about the genders of the emotions, Pete Docter said, "It was intuitive. It felt to me like Anger's very masculine, I don't know why ... Sadness felt a little more feminine and Mindy Kahling as Disgust felt right ... with Mom and Dad, we skewed them all male and all female for a quick read, because you have to understand where we are, which is a little phony but hopefully people don't mind!"
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:40 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, well. I stand corrected. These facts and opinions look so similar!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:57 AM on June 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


Well, one of Dad's emotions called the others "Gentlemen," when they were preparing to Put The Foot Down.
posted by tomboko at 8:02 AM on June 25, 2015


Both the father and mother kind of fit the mold of stereotypical parents. Dad's the bread winner, Mom's the one alert to family problems, and so it's not surprising they just went all one gender for each parents. It's an old fashion setup. Riley, meanwhile, has a mixture of both attributes and likewise, has mixed gender emotions. Even her name is gender neutral.
posted by Atreides at 8:10 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Docter's explanation makes some sense, but they also "shoot" Mom's headquarters from a different angle than Dad's (to match their real-world counterparts' placement at the dinner table), so I don't know that that specific shorthand was entirely necessary. And as that image suggests, there were some signifiers of diversity in the details...The glasses and mustaches plus the "camera angles" should have been enough.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:47 AM on June 25, 2015


Actual depression? Family member death? Molestation, even? Overestimating my children's movies, perhaps.

No, no. They're actually in a children's animated movie that's out in theaters (for now).

Seriously, both Inside Out and Marnie kinda have similar things going on with memory and a young person's emotional development/state, so I would definitely highly recommend both.
posted by FJT at 10:34 AM on June 25, 2015


Maybe this is obvious, but I just realized that at the end, sadness didn't corrupt the core memories, it helped interpret them. At least the hockey memory, which had sadness + comfort in it, but you could only see the sad part (her being held by her parents in the branch of the tree) when sadness touched it and you were able to look through the blue "lens." Otherwise, it was just her being lifted up by her teammates, which was an out-of-context interpretation (as apparently they comforted her, too, even though she missed the shot). It was probably this nature of the core memory that allowed her to come back and be emotionally honest with her parents, because comfort through sadness with her parents was already a core part of who she was. What was being worked out in her head/heart lead to her going home instead. As Joy was figuring this out and rotating the core memory to see it in context was about the same time Riley jumped off the bus and was running home.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:35 PM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


ALSO, the constant battle between Joy with Sadness throughout the movie was probably supposed to represent Riley's internal struggle with her own sadness after hearing her mom ask her to "try to be happy for her father, because he's having a hard time too." Sadness wanting to touch everything was metaphorical for her struggle to be emotionally honest in an environment that kept trying to keep sadness "in the chalk circle" for the sake of her family, while also knowing that it needed to touch things to really find resolution. Again, maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but I'm realizing how often the stuff going on inside was connected to the stuff going outside (besides the obvious islands falling and all that). They felt like two unrelated worlds operating at times, with some overlap (as if the inside of her head was just telling an interesting story about how feelings work in general), but the feelings really mirrored pretty well what was going on with her real life, at least between Sadness and Joy.

This really was a clever movie with a lot of layers to it. I think I forgive Pixar for Cars 2.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:45 PM on June 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


Wow, I feel like the emotion in charge of me must be pedantry (is that an emotion? Is now!) because one of the first things I thought was huh, so do the emotions have emotions in their heads too? Because you have all of them feeling happy, Joy feeling afraid and sad, Anger feeling afraid, Sadness feeling happy. And I actually don't buy that kids only feel pure, unmixed emotions until they start growing up.

I also want to know what happened to some other pretty primal things that certainly take over the control room at times, like hunger or pain. And where's curiosity? Wonder? Shame? Pride? Love?!? She's too young for lust to play a major role, but desire definitely kicks in early! I'd accept that some of these are complex emotions, or even abstract, but not all.

I don't know, I enjoyed the film on many levels, and I definitely appreciated the value that was placed on Sadness in the end. That was nice, especially in what sometimes seems like a relentlessly positive society. But I also found it frustrating with what it left out. As I said to the friend who saw it with me, clearly they need to make another one.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:03 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


After listening to the Fighting in the War Room review of the movie and hearing David Ehrlich's criticism, it seems that a sign that someone may not enjoy it as much as others rests on how many questions they have as they watch it. Which, when you think about it, isn't a bad thing, but it's obviously a distraction if the movie can't lock you down into its playing field.
posted by Atreides at 7:56 AM on June 26, 2015


After listening to the Fighting in the War Room review of the movie and hearing David Ehrlich's criticism, it seems that a sign that someone may not enjoy it as much as others rests on how many questions they have as they watch it. Which, when you think about it, isn't a bad thing, but it's obviously a distraction if the movie can't lock you down into its playing field.

What's interesting for our family is that even aside from one's opinion of the movie, it's pretty much given all of our kids permission to talk about their emotions, which is a bit step for us. And judging from all the kids and parents we saw crying in the theater, I'm guessing we aren't alone. As our girls have been getting older, this has always been a big hurdle for us because for one, it feels very vulnerable to talk about emotional things. And two, there isn't always the language yet to map to internal feelings when they are young, because they aren't understood very well yet. It's just this properly-basic inexplicable thing going on inside. So pressing them to talk about it can feel frustrating for them.

All of our girls now have got a favorite doll (that I think tends to correspond to their emotional preference), and they can use it at times to talk about how they are feeling about things, and how that might correspond to their other emotions. (Our oldest has Disgust, which we probably would have guessed.) So, I really like Inside Out not only as a piece of art, but I appreciate it as genuine a public good that now exists for some great teaching moments. And I don't think I've ever felt as appreciative towards a movie before, much less an animated Pixar movie. I mean, you eventually need to get more nuanced with it, as there are other emotions, and some emotions are combinations of other emotions (like anger being frustration + disappointment). But as a basis for starting to understand and create metaphorical images for discussion, it's pretty great.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:27 AM on June 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


As just one example, our oldest (who picked Disgust) likes to poke at one of our other girls with words, who doesn't always take it well and gets pretty angry (as is understandable). We told our oldest that when she does this, it's not nice behavior but it is also prone to make fire shoot out of the top of the other one's head, so let's not participate in that behavior any more. It seems to work, as I think it's easy to feel immune to the overreactions of others as a kid and not always see a causal chain between interactions. Now she has a picture for it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw this movie last night and loved it. My son is 10 months old and I am a mass of raw emotions most of the time, so I cried a lot. I cried during the Lava short, I cried at the beginning of the movie when newborn Riley makes her newborn noises, I cried and cried straight through the end of the movie.

I was sitting in front of a solid row of college kids. They were being a little loud and rude at first, made lots of whispered jokes about the Lava short, but eventually settled down when the film started. I don't think any of them had a dry eye by the end. One of the guys felt the need to comment on "his feels" as they left the theater.
posted by aabbbiee at 10:17 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


All of that said, I do want to gently point out my mild frustration with the ways some characters of this film were designed. Joy was tall and skinny, and Sadness was short and round and bespectacled. Why couldn't Joy be short and round and jolly? Why couldn't Sadness be tall and skinny?
And, in the Lava short, why did the second volcano have to look so much like a young human female that the volcano didn't even look realistic? I mean, the first volcano looked like a mountain first, with the attributes of a human man, but the realism was eye-popping. But then the second volcano just looks like they drew a human female and put a vent in her head, and it was a disappointment to lose that realism. Why couldn't the second volcano look round and mountainous like the first?

I LOVED the movie. I LOVED the short. I would see them again and again if I had any hope of getting out of the house for a movie anytime soon.

I don't mean to shit on anything, and certainly there is a lot to celebrate in this story. The characterization of Riley is great- a female protagonist who is not a princess; I loved that she was both athletic but also prone to adolescent girl stuff like Imaginary Boyfriend. I give points that Riley's mom was allowed motherly hips, but was also athletic. The film definitely passes the Bechdel test. That's awesome, seriously.

But, c'mon. Can't we move past the "skinny is shorthand for good" bullshit?
posted by aabbbiee at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Producer Jonas Rivera, from an interview with him and Pete Docter on Aintitcool.com:

We screened it for our kids on the crew when it was half done. We were just trying to make sure it was clear and little kids would get it as much as we hoped they would. We were pleased to find that they did, and they were able to explain the core memories and the islands and operations, but also the plot and story of it. We did this on a Saturday, and one of our guys came back in on Monday and said, “I’ve got to tell you guys. Our little boy who’s six has been doing swimming lessons for a long time. He’s been afraid to dive off the board. When we take him up there, he won’t go. We saw the movie on Saturday. On Sunday when we went to the lesson, he jumped right in.” He swam over, and they said, “Well, how did you do it?” And he said, “Well, I just thought Fear might have been driving, so I just pushed him aside.” We just flipped, because we are not trying to make a preachy thing here, but it was a real great feeling to know this story worked on a level, and this kid embraced it and took it home with him.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:56 AM on June 26, 2015 [25 favorites]


And, in the Lava short, why did the second volcano have to look so much like a young human female that the volcano didn't even look realistic? I mean, the first volcano looked like a mountain first, with the attributes of a human man, but the realism was eye-popping. But then the second volcano just looks like they drew a human female and put a vent in her head, and it was a disappointment to lose that realism. Why couldn't the second volcano look round and mountainous like the first?

I think it really has to do with some kind of imagery connected to Polynesian society, at least in popular culture. Very often we're presented with large Polynesian men as symbolic of that culture and people, but almost always, the women are depicted in the manner as the other volcano. She's the hula girl from the dash, turned into a volcano. I recall feeling a little disappointed that they made her conform so much to the standard mainstream ideas of beauty.

Here's an interview with the director on how they incorporated Hawaiian landmarks and geology into the appearance of the islands/volcanoes. Which, unfortunately, doesn't say anything about the design choice for the female volcano.
posted by Atreides at 11:41 AM on June 26, 2015


it seems that a sign that someone may not enjoy it as much as others rests on how many questions they have as they watch it. Which, when you think about it, isn't a bad thing, but it's obviously a distraction if the movie can't lock you down into its playing field.

I don't know, I'm perfectly capable of engaging with a film and going with the world it creates while also retaining my critical faculties. I think doing otherwise would be a bit like how Joy treats Sadness at the start, fobbing her off with mind manuals and telling her to stand in a circle. Maybe Riley only has facts and opinions on the rare occasions a train of thought happens to bring the latest shipment, but I don't.

I guess that leads me to another big question: how does thinking fit into all of this? Yes, it's important to be aware of and recognise our emotions and when they're driving us, or trying to. But the anecdote above about the boy and the diving board shows there is something else going on as well. It would have been disappointing if they had made thoughts opposed to emotions as conventional wisdom would have it, so at least they steered clear of that, but to relegate thought to an occasionally visiting train was, well, problematic for me.

But don't worry, I'll get back in my circle of annoying questions (oddly the same shape as a plate of beans) and y'all can go back to admiring the nice bowling balls the film created for you.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:05 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess that leads me to another big question: how does thinking fit into all of this? Yes, it's important to be aware of and recognise our emotions and when they're driving us, or trying to.

I am sure there is more than one way to think about this, but I think this opens up a nice discussion between feelings and emotions. I generally understand feelings as being properly basic mental/biological states, and sometimes they come and go and we don't always have control over them. Emotions, on the other hand, are feelings directed towards something. So for example, I can have a bad day, and be appropriately sad or angry about that. However, I can also take that emotion out on something else in a way that is unjustified (say, my family when I get home from work). As I grow and learn to think about where to properly direct feelings, it requires me to think about where they come from, where they should be properly directed, how I can deal with them in healthy ways, etc.

I think we saw a lot of thinking stuff being worked out in Riley in the movie, but a lot of it was implied. Thinking about the proper place to be emotional, and who is safe, and whether or not we are being okay in the way we direct a feeling, is a part of being emotionally healthy (or unhealthy). I think a mistake might be for us to teach kids that emotions just are what they are, and we are somehow beholden to them (that is perhaps my only possible concern about the movie, that it isn't overly clear). I do also think it's a mistake to overly discredit how people are feeling if we think it is sometimes misdirected, as people are entitled to how they feel. But kids can learn to use emotions to their benefit, although it takes time and patience and grace as we properly frame them against the world. It would have been nice to see a more overt connection in the movie, but I suspect there's only so much you can do within a two hour movie.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed it, but man oh man, I thought this movie was going to take us to a dark place.

I did, too, specifically when she got on a bus. Buses can be terrifying places with terrifying people on them, even for my grown-up self, and I just got on one last year. I was sure she would be trapped by some circumstance or some creep and have to deal with the consequence of her choice more than she did.

But I'm not really complaining. I adored this movie. I would have connected with it so, so much as a kid her age. I used to personify my feelings and ideas as "ladies" that looked a lot like a certain doll line I loved at the time, I forget the name of it. And when I hit puberty, I personified some brand new feelings as terrifying entities that would belong in a Tim Burton movie rather than a Pixar one. I'm guessing this is true of many, many kids, in their secret hearts.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:15 PM on June 26, 2015


The theoretical backbone of this movie is Ekman's basic emotion theory (though see here), and I was disappointed that that out the six universal emotions that Ekman first posited, only five get to be characters. I would have bet anything before the movie that the sixth would have been revealed partway through as a surprise character. After all, the unused emotion is Surprise. Surprise would have made a pretty great surprise character.

But there weren't any Surprises, and not many surprises. I was let down by the end of the movie. Pixar is usually great at the final acts. At the climax, they take complex environments that they've been building throughout the movie and use them as crazy Rube Goldberg machines in fun action setpieces (e.g. the door processing plant in Monsters Inc). I wanted all the pieces of Riley's psyche to pull together in new and unexpected ways in the end. But it was all fairly unremarkable. The emotional moments were well done, but they were mostly expected. Pixar didn't wring the promise from the premise.
posted by painquale at 4:13 PM on June 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the movie, though I wouldn't put it near the top of Pixar movies, or even one I'd watch again. It would have been nice had the female emotions -- or the female volcano -- had more interesting looking faces, like the male emotions and volcano, but the question of gender differences in animated faces has been discussed many times.

Kids in the theatre seemed really into it and scared at appropriate times. I'm sure I would have loved it at 8.

I was irritated that Riley had both male and female emotions, but every other person -- even other children -- only had same-sex emotions. (Granted maybe the pets didn't.)

The volcano short I actively disliked.
posted by jeather at 5:43 AM on July 1, 2015


I thought of SpacemanStix and his kid's dolls when I saw this in Subway yesterday. I am not sure this bit of synergy was fully thought through.
posted by phearlez at 10:08 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I would have liked more gender variation in multiple ways, absolutely (especially the parents' emotions). But then, I did laugh when you saw inside the preteen boy's head and it was nothing but GIRL! GIRL! GIRL! flashing alarms when Riley spoke to him.

I'm guessing the writers think that when Riley's "puberty" light switches on (given that she's 12, it's any second now) that all her emotions become female, like her mother's. Which would be par for their really traditional approach to gender roles in general. And therefore disappointing.

I have a love-hate relationship with Pixar, in that they do such great things with story but such limited things with characterization, both for boys and girls. They need some fresher, and possibly younger, writers developing their characters.
posted by emjaybee at 2:58 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




Regarding Lava: on the one hand I love all things Hawaii and that this one is told in song. On the other hand: yeah, that is...not how volcanoes work (I know I should really just relax, but sometimes it's so distractingly not even close to real life that I can't) , and it's really odd how girly the girl volcano is.

I dunno on this one. I know I'm supposed to love it, but I suspected I would find it questionable/not my favorite from the previews, and my mother did as well. Then a family friend saw it and liked it and suddenly Mom was all hyped to see it on the holiday. And then while in the movie theater she kept falling asleep, in between waking up and asking me multiple times "who's the purple one again? who's the green one again?" and saying, "This is a kid's movie? How the heck are small children supposed to follow this?" (The family friend was consulted on this the next day and it turned out she was more so-so on it than previously reported. "It was cute.") Admittedly my mom isn't so much into the "not real life" movies. But even I was all, "It's okay...kinda depressing in that Toy Story sort of way...kinda weird." I followed it, but it's weird.

Overall I felt like it was kinda like Wreck-It Ralph: Joy is Fix-It Felix, only having a hammer to hit things with and no other tools of her own in the toolbox (of course, that's the point, that she is a tool), only knowing how to make things happy and things get more and more out of hand when she can't just make everyone happy right now. And the moral of the story is that sometimes you just gotta wreck it... er, feel your sad feelings.

Reading up on all of this mandatory sequel/prequel stuff Pixar has to do now, it seems pretty clear that there will be Inside Out 2: THE PUBERTY YEARS.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:51 AM on July 6, 2015


Re the short: I'm normally quite happy to go along with the anthropomorphisation of almost anything for the sake of a cute story, but I couldn't bring myself to believe that there are girl" and "boy" volcanoes. Also, if the "girl" volcano was facing away from the "boy" volcano as he was sinking, how does him coming out of the sea at about the same spot change that?

Re the feature: Enjoyed it, thought it was really intelligent, liked how they come up with explanations for real world observations (eg the facts & opinions thing, the banishing from the memory of all piano lessons except chopsticks and heart & soul, why we can remember jingles forever but not what we had for breakfast), loved the abstraction machine or whatever that was - looked like the animators were having fun with that.

Didn't think much of "honesty island" - is honesty really supposed as big a life-shaper as family, hockey and goofballness? (I wish they could've called that one Monkey Island). And the payoff of having an honesty island - it seemed to me that her dishonesty caused the island to crumble - didn't ring true for me. After all, the hockey island went while she was playing hockey. So really, it should have losing the island that triggered her to steal the credit card, not the other way round.
posted by pianissimo at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2015


Finally saw it last night. It is definitely near the top of the Pixar list for me (among or just behind Incredibles, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-E) but sure, it had its flaws.

Some of the writing needed another draft or two like wo. Lines like, "Or our backyard, where you used to play..." Yo, mom, you can just say backyard. I'm not concerned that you're an imposter or something. Also, I wanted more of what are, to me, the "Noises Off" sequences. The classroom, where you can see what's going on both "on stage" and "backstage" and the way they interplay makes perfect sense and you can see exactly where it's leading. Or the dinner table, where Disgust and Fear trying to pretend to be Joy plays out perfectly.

I expect that the sequel will involve a lot more fraught social interaction, so hopefully we'll get it there. I also expect a lot more Disgust in that one.

Still, I adored this. Especially the way in which it was clear that depression≠sadness. Sadness was going around compelled to touch stuff because that's her job. The depression is once both Joy and Sadness are exiled and Riley can't feel either.

Also loved Bing Bong's sacrifice, not just for the way it played out on screen, but because it nailed home the message of both mourning the loss of childhood while celebrating newfound maturity. Also, Honesty Island's collapse into the Train of Thought worked for me - from that point until Sadness saves the day, Riley's running without thinking clearly and nobody has any control anymore.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:21 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Loved it. As someone who's seen a close family member deal with depression recently the way it was depicted really hit home -- in a good way, though. It was an honest, empowering way to portray that state of mind, as well as the general concept of emotional maturity. Although there should be a big old warning label on the kid-friendly posters, because a friend who took her seven-year-old daughter to the movie as a distraction from the ongoing saga of her father's psychotic break definitely should not have done that. Yikes.

(Also, thinking of the more subtle jokes, anybody else catch that Dad's ringtone is the Metal Gear Solid codec?)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:04 PM on July 11, 2015


My wife needed to get a few things done, so I took two of our girls to a matinee to see Inside Out again, and I kept my eyes peeled this time around for details that I missed before. (We were really looking for the pizza truck, but never found it.)

One thing was super interesting. Each emotion was inherently pretty properly basic. That is, Anger was always angry, Fear was always afraid, Disgust was always disgusted. This was the fundamental explanation for why they couldn't do anything right without Joy and Sadness around; they could only act true to their basic emotional tendencies, which created additional drama as Riley was trying to deal with things.

So we saw that in Joy and Sadness, too, which caused the conflict between the two. EXCEPT. After Sadness comforted Bing Bong and Joy and Bing Bong eventually found themselves in the Pit where memories go to die. This is when Joy finally put the pieces together and noticed that the core memory was best explained and understood by sadness, where Riley was comforted by her parents and team. And what does Joy do? She sobs, great big tears of sadness over being trapped and not being able to get back. I'm not sure if it was just considered to be a necessary plot device, but she could have stayed perky throughout the problem solving getting out. Instead, Joy cried and was sad.

At this point, my daughter said, Hey, Joy's hair and eyes are blue, just like Sadness. Hmm. This might be absolutely nothing, but it was interesting. It makes you consider for a minute that part of the message of the story might not just be that emotions work together, but Joy itself might have some sadness inherently within it at times. That is, the pathway to joy comes through good things but also through hardships-via-relationships as an inherent part of what it means to attain joy. Maybe that's overthinking it, but you have to wonder why Joy cries, when every other character stays true to themselves...

There are also a few integration things that are used to wrap up the movie. The very last shot in headquarters is of Riley's "core memories" being stored, and they are all touched by each of the primary emotional colors now. Also, when you think about the view that we get of the parent's emotions, there are two things going on: 1) they are all getting along quite well abd in sync with each other, and 2) there is a primary emotion for each person (which happens to coincide with a book-set put out by Pixar that asks, What is your primary emotion today?). The primary emotion for the mother is sadness (maybe indicating empathy?), and the father's in anger. The healthy "syncing" of emotions message is really clear in the final scene when Riley is doing well and playing hockey, and you can hear them all trying balance each other out as thoughts come flooding through her head as she plays.

So, fun to watch it again.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


And what does Joy do? She sobs, great big tears of sadness over being trapped and not being able to get back. I'm not sure if it was just considered to be a necessary plot device, but she could have stayed perky throughout the problem solving getting out. Instead, Joy cried and was sad.

At this point, my daughter said, Hey, Joy's hair and eyes are blue, just like Sadness. Hmm. This might be absolutely nothing, but it was interesting. It makes you consider for a minute that part of the message of the story might not just be that emotions work together, but Joy itself might have some sadness inherently within it at times. That is, the pathway to joy comes through good things but also through hardships-via-relationships as an inherent part of what it means to attain joy. Maybe that's overthinking it, but you have to wonder why Joy cries, when every other character stays true to themselves...


So I was mulling over this theory, and noticed this about the representation of each emotion:

Disgust: greet skin, green eyes, green hair
Anger: red skin, red eyes, red hair
Fear: purple skin, purple eyes, purple hair
Sadness: blue skin, blue eyes, blue hair
Joy: yellow skin, blue eyes, blue hair

I wonder if this movie was about discovering the true nature of joy as just about anything else. Maybe this was Joy's story and Riley's story playing out on the same track.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:15 PM on July 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


When the dog invaded the classroom dream sequence, I laughed harder than I've laughed at anything in the theater since I was Riley's age watching PeeWee's Big Adventure. I don't know what it was, but it just incapacitated me with laughter, to the point where I started getting worried that I wouldn't be able to breath soon. I was laughing so hard my 15-year-old niece got really embarrassed...and she was the only other person in the theater.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:24 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, when you think about the view that we get of the parent's emotions, there are two things going on: 1) they are all getting along quite well abd in sync with each other, and 2) there is a primary emotion for each person (which happens to coincide with a book-set put out by Pixar that asks, What is your primary emotion today?). The primary emotion for the mother is sadness (maybe indicating empathy?), and the father's in anger.

Yeah, my take-away from the parents was that while each had a "primary" emotion, it was acting in a coordinating rather than over-riding fashion. So, "sadness" might be the coordinator for the Mom, but that is because she is an empathetic, nurturing person - and part of "sadness" is about connecting with others and their emotions. Dad has "anger" in charge, but "anger" in a coordinating role is likely more reflective of his entrepreneurial approach - a bit of a risk taker, but in a healthy balance. I still wish they had taken a little less of a stereotypical approach to the male/female dichotomy (what if Mom was the entrepreneur and Dad the caregiver?), but breaking our mass entertainment out of stereotypical molds is going to take a while.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and while I knew BingBong was going to be sacrificed somewhere along the journey, it was still very sad. The nightmare sequence was golden. Impressed that Pixar made a film with a female main character, no overt villain, and produced something that has some nuance and depth. My boys both enjoyed it, and I look forward to it taking a spot in our DVD library.
posted by nubs at 11:02 AM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


aabbiee: "And, in the Lava short, why did the second volcano have to look so much like a young human female that the volcano didn't even look realistic? I mean, the first volcano looked like a mountain first, with the attributes of a human man, but the realism was eye-popping. But then the second volcano just looks like they drew a human female and put a vent in her head, and it was a disappointment to lose that realism. Why couldn't the second volcano look round and mountainous like the first?"

I took that as a visual reference to notable Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwoʻole and his wife Marlene (pictured together here).
posted by komara at 1:17 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wonder now, thank you for the photo komara, if some of the criticism for Lava arises out of a better understanding of the Hawaiian/Polynesian subtext?
posted by Atreides at 3:11 PM on September 6, 2015


%n: "Pixar is usually great at the final acts. At the climax, they take complex environments that they've been building throughout the movie and use them as crazy Rube Goldberg machines in fun action setpieces"

This is my least favourite part of Pixar movies! Each one starts with an interesting and at least somewhat unique concept—but then they end up as a zany chase scene that just doesn't feel the same as the rest of the film. The first and second halves of Wall-E, for example, feel like completely different movies.

I guess I'm glad that at least some people do prefer movies that way, and it's not just the folks at Pixar running out of ideas. But thanks for letting me have my kind of ending this time :)
posted by vasi at 11:22 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bouncing off SpacemanStix' comment (and nubs' follow-up), I didn't see the parents emotions as having a primary, or even a co-ordinator. To me, each emotion had an equal seat at the control panel & seemed to work together. In the scenarios we were shown, it did seem that Anger (father) & Sadness (mother) were co-ordinating the responses to what was going on, but I kind of felt like that was just based on the current frame of reference & specific situation; i.e. I think if we watched them all the time they would just appear to be a team with no real "captain".

I also thought that the change of Riley's memories from all one colour to mixes of colours was partially about the "major life event" that she goes thorough during the film (the whole of it being bigger than any one core memory that she has experienced), and partially due to ageing/ maturing. When children are young, emotions seem to control everything in an almost single minded fashion Joy! Anger! Sadness! etc., but as we age, and life becomes more complex, our memories are usually tinged with more than one emotion.

Anyway, loved the movie and the short.
posted by Laura in Canada at 7:27 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]




While there, he spends little time with his family, but is constantly running business on his phone, or heading off on errands. Riley is isolated from her friends, and has difficulty pursuing her normal physical activities. Meanwhile, the family’s possessions have been delayed by a wayward moving company. Although he causes all this, and at no small cost to his daughter’s mental health, Riley’s dad is not depicted as a villain. He loves his family, they love him, and together they work through the deprivations caused by the move. The narrative does nothing to condemn this state of affairs; indeed, it is Riley’s burden to accept them.

I think this represents a misunderstanding of the film. While Riley's dad isn't presented as a villain, we are clearly shown that his actions have a negative impact on not just Riley, but the family as a whole. Riley is expected to smile through it all, but this expectation leads her to nearly running away back to Minnesota, clearly representing that the family unit in the movie, in that context, was simply not working. When is it best? When her dad forgets his work and embraces his family. Riley does have to adjust to living in San Francisco, but it's not an accident that the film ends with an affirmation that things are better when life reflects the world that existed before the city, Riley playing hockey with her engaged parents in the stands. It doesn't end with a scene of Riley's father talking on the phone about work while Riley reads a book in the background, which is what this post wants to imply.

Up isn't about an old retired widower getting back to work, it's about a lonely man opening up again to the world about him, and becoming part of a new family. In fact, the one old man in the film who can't let go of his career is the villain.
posted by Atreides at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wish there were more children's movies without villains. Reading every story to have good guys and bad guys inculcates a damaging worldview, but it's the structure of pretty much all childrens' fiction. I admired Inside Out for not having a villain. The movie doesn't need to be forced into that mold.

It reminds me of Mary Poppins, another movie I consider a mostly villain-free kid's movie. The central conflict there too is that the parents aren't spending enough time with their children. But the reasons that the parents are occupied are considered important and even heroic. Their mother is a suffragette getting out votes for women! (Votes For Women, step in time.) The dad is a banker... well, that depiction of heroism has not aged so well. Regardless, there's conflict, but no one is a bad guy. Dick Van Dyke even gives the children a little speech about this when they are scared their father is mad at them.

I think it's possible and preferable to read Inside Out in this way. The dad in Inside Out seems like a good dude. He's not a villain for moving his family and becoming wracked with work for a week afterward... that actually seems like a particularly harsh message to communicate to kids. The family just had a trying week for all sorts of reasons and their attentions were split. The family unit wasn't working at that moment, but I don't think the movie assigns blame. There doesn't have to be someone to blame.
posted by painquale at 1:21 PM on July 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think it's possible and preferable to read Inside Out in this way. The dad in Inside Out seems like a good dude. He's not a villain for moving his family and becoming wracked with work for a week afterward... that actually seems like a particularly harsh message to communicate to kids. The family just had a trying week for all sorts of reasons and their attentions were split. The family unit wasn't working at that moment, but I don't think the movie assigns blame. There doesn't have to be someone to blame.

I think the movie was mainly trying to show the emotional pitfalls that good people can (too easily) stumble into, and sometimes those things are fueled by good intentions. The catalyst for many of Riley's issues seemed to be her mom asking her to hold it all together while her dad was having a tough week, rather than being emotionally honest. Man, I could totally see myself doing that, and it was a kick in the pants to try not to whitewash things in my own (relatively emotionally healthy) family unit. It also seemed to suggest that for well intentioned people, our own emotional issues can blind us to the needs of others (because emotions are hard). I'm sure Riley's mom was feeling pretty tense with the needs of Riley's dad (which seemed to be justified anxiety, in light of the risk they were all taking for the family on the new job), and some of that bled over to Riley in an unhealthy way. Or, it may even be that Riley's mom's decision to try and hold it together for a short while for Riley's dad was good for her, but it was not good for a child trying to cope in ways that were already hard and filled with disappointment. This movie was about normal people dealing with normal things, and the complex web of interrelationships between our personal inner emotional lives. Figuring our own stuff out is hard enough, figuring it out in community (the hug at the end of the movie still gets me a bit teary eyed) just makes it more complicated, but it's worth it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:43 AM on July 7, 2016


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