Inside the Life Lessons of ‘Inside Out’

By Phill Powell

Pixar’s Inside Out continues to wow summer audiences. So far the movie has made more than $250 million at the box office, throwing some real competition at other summer blockbusters. Inside Out even ruled the box office during the July 4th holiday weekend, narrowly besting Jurassic World.

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Joy (center) may be the leading emotion in Inside Out, but the film makes the point that all of the emotions have important roles to play.

But there’s much more to Inside Out than just a clever animated romp for the family. Because of its unique storyline – which deals expressly with emotions – Inside Out provides parents with many teachable moments. Here are some of the best:

  • LESSON: Sadness is Often a Good Thing.
    Just as there are times in the movie when Joy, the “lead” emotion, must trust Sadness to save the day, the film makes the broader point that sadness is often a good thing. Sometimes sadness helps us clarify how we feel about things. Often when humans deal with loss, we must first sail through patches of sadness before we can reach some state of mental acceptance about what we’ve lost.
  • LESSON: Even Mom and Dad Have to Deal with Emotions.
    At certain points in the movie, something happens and we first see how it is interpreted by Riley’s emotions. Then we go inside the mind of Riley’s mother, and we see that she also has a “panel” of emotions governing her feelings. Then we see inside the mind of Riley’s father, and guess what? He’s got emotions to deal with, too. This lesson can remind kids that their parents may be older and wiser, but they’re still people who are influenced by their emotions.
  • LESSON: All of Our Memories Are Stored Safely for Us.
    Inside Out offers a basic but accurate picture of how the human mind deals with memories and how some core memories linger most powerfully in our subconscious mind. For kids who may have lost a beloved family pet and may be concerned about their memories of that pet fading in time, it may be comforting to hear that those precious memories are indeed safeguarded in their minds.
  • LESSON: Anger is Okay, But We Need to Channel It Properly.
    The movie does a good job of showing that even negative feelings can have a positive aspect; it all depends on how we process those emotions and how we choose to act upon them. As the most negative of the emotions, anger can have a positive aspect, in making us stand up for ourselves or helping us call out situations that are unfair. Parents can and should reinforce this message and define what is an acceptable release of anger.

  • LESSON: Emotions Are Not Always Working Against Us.
    The producers consulted with leading psychologists who wanted the film to convey the idea that our emotions are not always working against us, but are there, in fact, to help guide us along and make better life choices. These psychologists suggest that there is no need for us to feel naturally at odds with our emotions, but rather that we should try to learn from our emotions as best we can. That’s a contagious idea…and one that’s at the heart of Pixar’s latest hit.

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The voice cast of the Inside Out emotions: Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Lewis Black (Anger), Amy Poehler (Joy), Bill Hader (Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust).

Making Moving Pictures
Audiences are connecting with Inside Out in a big way because Pixar understands how to make 3D computer animated films that have as much heart as they do fun.

There’s never been a better time to get involved with animation. The average Pixar film earns well over $600 million…and who knows how much Inside Out will make?

This summer could be your chance to really discover animation, by attending a Digital Media Academy animation camp, where kids and teens can learn from established animators and discover how to put today’s super-powerful animation software to work on creating the next great family animated film!