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by Lei Landicho

From the two animation studios that gave us Wall-E, Brave, and Frozen, comes a trailblazing film that charmingly captures what it feels like to be human. Inside Out greets its viewers with comicality, engages them in a clever discourse of the mind, and finally, leaves a lasting memory of friendship, family and more importantly, self-discovery.


The Disney and Pixar animated film zooms inside the life of an eleven-year-old girl named Riley. Set in one of the most tumultuous events a pre-pubescent person could experience, Riley and her family moved to San Francisco leaving Riley with zero friends, unappetizing cuisine, and a dead rat as their welcoming committee. Overwhelmed, she still optimistically tried to reverse the situation. However, the pressure of moving got into her, so she attempted to run away from home. While on a bus, she had a sudden change of heart and went back home to her worried parents. The film ended with Riley’s reconciliation with her struggle in the new environment and a realization that, in times of trouble, we can always count on our families.

Zooming into Riley’s head, a more complex story has been taking place. Inside Out chronicles the reason why people do, say, and feel things the way they do through personified versions of our emotions. Main emotions of an eleven-year-old such as Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger are amusingly visualized and represented. The film embarks its viewers on an introspective tour of the mind, psychologically and emotionally speaking. It unmasks Riley not just as a daughter and a friend, but as an individual with hidden desires and fears. It imaginatively presents how intricate the mind is and how little a part of it we can control.

The highlight of the story is the dichotomy of Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith).  The film describes our seemingly overrated necessity to be happy and stern evasion from melancholy. It debunks the notion of happiness as the only and ultimate goal of living. Faced with hardships, Riley cannot solely rely on a happy mindset. Inside Out teaches us to embrace sadness in its raw form – sappy, debilitating, and painful. It is not just, “only through sadness can we appreciate life’s joy,” but it is “through sadness that we can fully be alive.”

To impress to age’s young and old that sadness is an inherent concept of our being is an eye-opening feat that Disney and Pixar has successfully achieved. Inside Out opens up to the public the long-dodged subject of looking to and assessing one’s self. It tells us that significant stories don’t just happen interpersonally – that most of the time, we need to stop, ponder, and listen to the little voices in our head.

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