On a rainy summer holiday afternoon, we decided it was a good time to go to the cinema and watch a movie. Inside Out by Disney Pixar had great reviews, and the trailer looked funny, so we, myself and my two daughters aged 10 and 8, headed off to see it.
But it turns out the movie wasn’t very funny at all. Sure it had some moments of humour, but mainly, for a family that has just taken the plunge and moved countries, it was a very emotional, heart-wrenching and tear-inducing few hours.
The worst hit was my eight year old, who did not really remember her previous transition at 5. Eight is a really tough age to move a child. When we last moved, my eldest was 8, and that was tough. Very tough. But luckily last time in the middle of the move, we did not watch this film. Or maybe we should have. More on that later.
The central aspect of Inside Out is about an 11 year old girl called Riley, who had just relocated across the USA to start a new life in San Francisco. It starts out showing all the wonderful memories she has stored in her life up until this point since she was a baby and how the characters came into her head.
So far so good.
Then Sadness comes to the fore and starts touching all those core memories that were filled with joy, but now they are filled with sadness.
Uh-oh. First sobs start. Hands are held.
Joy and Sadness get pulled away from memory HQ to retrieve the core memories that by mistake had gone down the chute into long term memory. Joy is determined that these are the things that keep Riley happy in her life and formed the cornerstones of who she is. If they are lost then she is lost as a person. Each of these cornerstone of her personality are represented by an island that is powered by memories.
As these memories are missing, the islands lose power and crash down into oblivion…. The story progresses by the discovery of a forgotten favourite toy that had given much joy but had been lost in long term memory… When the last 'family island' starts crumbling it is game over for my daughter.
She has lived this film as it were her own life and has just seen all her memories be shattered and her worst fears confirmed. My daughter is now firmly on my lap and receiving huge hugs and kisses and the sobbing starts. Oh my, think I, what have we let ourselves in for?
Come on, I think, this is Disney, it must get better soon and end happily… but will it be done well enough for my daughter to regather herself as well?
So yes, all is rescued at the last minute… with the poignant moment when Joy realises that Sadness is required to make things better, to bring acceptance of the new situation and enable Joy to return to Riley's life.
But this deeper philosophical element I think was bypassed by my daughter as deep emotions of her own were still sweeping through her body and bubbling over into huge sobs. By this point my daughter was way past a ‘happy ending’.
Of course, like all Disney movies the end is positive - but the final positive end moments were nowhere near enough to pick my daughter out of the deep cavern of sadness into which she had descended. It was the final 15 minutes I guess when things were on the up having had the majority of the film having you head down into the depths of despair.
Others in the same viewing also emitted a few sobs in the cinema, as it does pull at everyone’s emotions. So wherever you are in life right now this movie will tug at your heart. But probably nowhere near the same as if you have just relocated with children.
On The Upside
In fact, now a few days on, I would say it had been a cathartic release of tears and feelings which prompted talking about the favourite memories of our last home, which is always a good thing to do.
If you have been following me for a while now, you will understand that relocation is a process, not an event, so things do take time to start looking up again. Sharing feelings is the first stage in accepting them and being able to move on and focus on the current situation.
BUT if you have just relocated and your child is very sad or angry or frustrated at the recent life change - Be prepared to cope with more emotions as a result if you go and watch this movie. But do go together, sit close and be prepared to support them.
The filmmakers worked with the psychologist Paul Ekman to finesse the movie’s exploration of emotion. And they did a very good job of it. In fact I want to watch it again, but without a sobbing child on my lap to take in the more subtle details they have added into the scenes.
It was not only the girl who was shown to have the “emotional team” within her head. Her Mother’s team was ruled by “Sadness” not “Joy” as in Riley’s case. Dad was ruled by “Anger” as the main captain, but blink and you would miss these elements.
Last tip: Do not leave until the final credits as the extras showing what goes on in other characters heads is actually the funniest five minutes of the film. They had the cat spot on...
Have you been to see this film with your children? What was their response? Did it prompt converstaions about emotions? Or did they just latch onto the funny parts and missed all the emotional side? I would love to hear from you below.
*Inside Out has been named “Visa Versa” in some countries.