Like most people, I am a fan of Pixar movies. From Toy Story to A Bug’s Life, from Finding Nemo to UP, these modern-day animated movie makers have a special way of creating enjoyable, memorable and often emotion-moving films.
Pixar’s latest installment, Inside Out, was one of their most ambitious yet and well done.
According to Internet Movie Database, “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.”
Most movies made do not have a child as the main character, with many notable exceptions (e.g. Annie). The two main characters in this movie are “Riley,” an 11-year-old girl, and her inner emotion “Joy,” each of whom are easy to identify with and work together well.
There are plenty of funny moments in this film. One of the funniest involves Riley’s long-ago imaginary friend. The movie, in her mind, depicts some strange, but cool, landscape and characters.
There also are some memorable quirky characters and moments that add depth to the movie. We feel what it means to be disgusted or sad. All of the tensions in the movie are resolved, and the character development is well done for an animated picture. While there are no memorable songs or specific lines, this movie provides plenty to remember for the viewer.
If there were a lot of bad words in this movie, I missed them. There are, however, are some presentations of romantic interest (e.g. Riley and a boy) that could be mildly problematic. A bigger problem comes when Riley’s mother, in a moment of frustration at her husband, remembers a time when she could have chosen another man. This was a low point for the otherwise fairly clean movie.
This movie is make-believe. Therefore, you cannot judge it as presenting a full worldview. At the same time, it could be somewhat confusing to children, who are still figuring out the way the world works. What is obviously make-believe to grown-ups may not come across that way to children. So it is important to talk about the way God made us in His image. And it’s important to talk about that people have a body and a mind and a spirit, not a body and a mind that is acted upon by little emotion-humanoids within us. Unfortunately, there was no mention of God in this movie.
In a grander sense, Inside Out allows children to understand and even feel a wide array of emotions, including sadness and sacrifice. This is much-needed in our happiness-at-all-cost approach today. If you are looking for an explicitly Christian movie, this is not it. If you are looking for a good movie to enjoy and spark some good conversations and memories, Inside Out might be just the one for you. This particular Pixar film won’t go down in history as their very best, like Toy Story, but it will be considered a success.
3 out of 4 stars