Inside Out: Why So Glum?

After a two year drought, Pixar has finally set loose an extravaganza with enough charisma to make your heart stop! But are we left in over our heads?

Pixar has always had a gift. “What is that gift?” you ask. Truth be told it is hard to explain. You see, when Pixar has finally made a masterpiece, that film is not always the most watchable film of all time. Let us use UP as an example. In Disney/Pixar’s UP, we are given a rich, colorful, exotic, and emotionally satisfying film to make your five senses explode from enthrallment. Yet, it is for these ambitions and creative reasons that the Pixar films can make one feel drained and hesitant to embark on said adventure again (at least for a while). Like I said, it sure is a gift, but it can also be an exhausting work of love. These truths, I feared, would completely overwhelm in the new and exciting adventure from Pixar, Inside Out. The notion of following the inside of a young girl’s head while she is going through trying and hard times in her life is ambitious to say the least. We follow Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust, her emotions represented as lively creatures, as they try to make sense of the new world around her.


I am glad to say, however, that Pixar (mostly) succeeded in not letting their farfetched schemes take over the “watchability” factor of this adventurous new film! I had very little knowledge of what I would be getting myself into as I sat there helplessly snacking on my Nutella and pretzels I snuck in for myself, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. When the film went to original and creative new twists and set designs, the film was always on the edge of leaving us in an emotional and confusing dust (though I could have pretty much done without the imaginary elephant friend…Yeah, that was weird). Thanks to the experienced hand of director Pete Doctor (UP, Monster Inc.), however, we are always put back on track and understanding in this vibrant and colorful masterpiece. It goes without saying, but this is one of Pixar’s finest films in quite a long time (I have not been totally sold on one since UP and Wall-E)! As to be expected, the film was a dazzle to look at (just check out a poster and you will see the fun look it’s pushing). The film also delivers some interesting and fun characters, thanks to a wide variety of talented actors led by Amy Poehler. The film has raw emotion, but also some serious laugh out moments, with only a handful of crude jokes to spoil the stricter parent’s attention. My favorite part, however, was Phyllis Smith’s (Phyllis from the Office) representation of Sadness. It is actually here that we will be embarking in a bit of spoilers. In all actuality, the things I will be addressing were a bit on the predictable side, but I should still warn you…

What we see in the more mature side of this tale is the important lesson of what to do with yourself. Seriously, what should you do? For poor Riley, a 12 year old new girl in town, she is left to despair. When she is unsure how to deal with the new surroundings and circumstances she has faced, she is left with a numbness of confusion, chaos, and void that is unfillable. Her emotions are not letting her express herself in a way that she truly needs. So she is left to dwell in her uncertain thoughts, which lead to dastardly actions. She doesn’t know where to go, what to do, what to say, or how to react. This brings in the one and only hope she has in saving herself; the sadness that she needs to make sense of it all. In the end, all she really had to do was feel the sorrow that made her see things the way they ought to have been seen. This is all rather vague, isn’t it? Well I am trying my best to be discrete, after all.


What is funny is that we were just studying this in a Bible class recently (which I admit I had trouble finding the verse connected to it). We went to 2 Cor. 10:7, which informs us that sorrow itself is not enough for an individual, but rather that you need Godly sorrow to make a better specimen of yourself. You see, when you are enraged, scared, or torn apart by a situation, but it causes you to only go to darker and worse places, than you are not helping yourself. What you really need is the sadness that brings reality to your door step. It forces you to change yourself, and grow from the hardship you are unavoidably facing. This is the sadness we need in our lives, no matter how difficult. And it is the one poor Riley needs to face as well.

I would lie if I said this film didn’t leave me misty eyed a bit. Though I can say it with a bit more confidence now after hearing one of my favorite film reviewers, Chris Stuckmann, did the same thing. Pixar really pulls for the heartstrings here, and tugs them tight. Overall, the film was fun, creative (boy, was it ever), intense, and meaningful. I don’t think you would do wrong by going to see it yourself. In fact, if you have noticed I am not much for typical new film reviews nowadays, but this one is very close to demanding it. I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did! We all need some help when it comes to hard times, and trying to cast aside sadness won’t do much for you. You need it to move on, and I think Pixar is doing just that with this new revelation.

This was reposted with permission from Andrew’s personal blog, Warnes on a Wire.  Andrew is a youth minister passionate about stories and their connections to the Christian worldview.  He reviews music and films for Christian Entertainment Reviews.

Andrew Warnes

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