By: Sarah Zucker, PsyD.

Inside Out ReviewPixar, known for their heartfelt and funny movies which tap into themes most Americans can relate to, has apparently outdone itself this time. And we’re so excited because their new movie, Inside Out, is about emotions! If critics are to be believed, this move captures the essence of our basic emotions and how they complement and conflict with each other. Most of the movie takes place inside the protagonist’s mind, highlighting how complicated everything is up there, especially as we go through life changes and mature. It’s about a young girl named Riley who moves from her hometown in the Midwest, which is all she has known, to San Francisco. This tumultuous transition sends her emotions into overdrive.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but each of the five basic emotions are main characters and they interact in humorous and touching ways. These five emotions are joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness. (There is some debate as to how many core emotions we actually have because some researchers think surprise is essentially fear and disgust is essentially anger, just with some social adaptations.) Apparently the movie highlights how we cannot have true joy without sadness, and vice versa. We are so glad that someone has made a movie about the full range of emotions that children and adults experience. I hope this film helps children give voice to all of their complicated feelings. It also seems great that they dispel a myth that is very pervasive in our society… That sadness is bad and should not be felt. This denying of a natural, healthy emotion is probably responsible for more misery than plain old sadness itself. Being willing to feel your feelings and accept them as they are before acting is a huge step towards attaining more inner peace and emotional wellness.

The movie also depicts what critics are saying is the most tear-jerking scene in any Pixar movie yet. (Something can be more emotional than Up!?) It involves Riley’s now increasingly discarded imaginary best friend, an elephant-bird hybrid named Bing Bong. Just reading about it made me feel emotional. I can only imagine how powerful it must be in the movie. We’ve all had something like an imaginary best friend or object we loved when we were little, and slowly it outlived its usefulness and was forgotten. Touching on that nostalgia is a recipe for guaranteed tears.

I hope you’ll consider taking the kiddos to see this movie. If you are an adult without kids, I hope you’ll go see it too and tell us what you thought. It’s supposed to be well-done, visually pleasing, thought-provoking, hilarious, poignant, and insightful. The voice work is also supposed to be top notch. If the movie brings up anything you’d like to talk about, we psychologists are always here to help you process those wild emotions we all experience.

Inside Out was released nationwide, including in San Diego, on June 19th.

Note: Just in case you were wondering, I have no affiliation with Pixar whatsoever… I’m just glad someone made a family movie about emotions.