Inside Out: specifics

- Title: Inside Out — fortunately for us, this isn't in a gore context. Phew.
- Nature: Animated movie (US) — halfway through childish and for grown-ups.
- Genre: Adventure, comedy — it's a Pixar movie, what did you expect?
- Length: 1h 35min — would you rather be watching this or take a nap? Hum...

What it is all about

In Inside Out — three prepositions, can’t top that — you get to meet Riley, your regular little girl. Rather merry, has friends and passions, likes joking around… (You gotta understand, she’s still a child, she’s not dead inside yet, that’s why.) It’s all fun and games until her parents decide to move away from where she grew up, which logically crushes her dreams. As they say in the streets, that’s when the shit hits the fan. You know the drill: loss of appetite, depression, heroine, prostitution, and ultimately suicide. What, that’s not what happens? Right, we just get inside her head — hence the title — and see her personified emotions doing stuff. Close enough.

What makes it so damn good

Technical insight: I is smart

If I had to give you an idea of what my face looked like while watching this movie, it would be the one you have before a cute little puppy doing cute little puppy stuff. Wanna know why? Let me tell you. This animated movie is definitely one of the most colorful ones around: whenever we are in someone’s head, you just can’t avoid drowning in the vivid colors. Some people even went so far as to think that this was the downside of the movie, but I believe it makes everything surreal for a reason: whether it be the memory orbs, the islands of personality, or the personified emotions, what we see inside is raw material, nothing is supposed to be tempered. After all, isn’t it where the imagination is born? Do you really think it should be dull, blunt? Get a grip, people.

Inside Out - Islands of personality

The islands of personality in Inside Out
© Disney

In addition to the usual music/mood harmony you’re pretty sure to get in an animated movie — with the enchanting melodies in the background when someone is saying something deep — you get to appreciate the light. I’m not talking about the lighting in the shots or whatever, I’m talking about how Inside Out is full of light, and for once it’s not the ideas that are bright, but the memories. What I thought was pretty cool too was the mechanical — even though not steampunk-like — universe. All this to make you realize that even though modern science is not able to understand it in its entirety, the human brain is like a well-oiled clockwork machine.

Personifications and allegories

You know Pixar’s pattern for making a new movie: ‘if [fill in the blank] had feelings’. Eventually, it had to be about feelings themselves: Inside Out was born. So what better to have an insight of a child’s mind (quite literally for that matter) than a good ol’ split-personality disorder — even though here it could also be called schizophrenia, but the two are not to be mixed up, otherwise weird science guys will bash your skull with their keyboards and that sucks — with five allegories, each respectively corresponding to a different emotion?

  • Joy, the genuinely over-positive, hyperactive yellow thing.
  • Inside Out - Fear

    Fear in Inside Out – © Disney

    Sadness, always breaking down and complaining.

  • Disgust, the ultimate, impossible fashion model.
  • Anger, with fire on his head because why the fuck not?
  • Fear, the awkward geek in a wool sweater.

So yeah, for all of you out there saying ‘stereotype much?’, well of course! The characters are supposed to be unidimensional, that’s the whole point. How the hell would you have rendered it otherwise? And more generally, if you want more complex characters, don’t watch a Disney. Yet if you want puns, watch a Disney. I mean, don’t tell me you didn’t like the ‘train of thought’, ‘subconscious’, or ‘abstract thought’ moments! These are gold. All those allegories allow us to understand all the different concepts: personality, core memories, organization of the brain… — and all this with no need to have a PhD in psychology or brain-science, what a bargain!

Growing up, growing old

Sure thing, there is a whole lot of childish humor; there needs to be, otherwise children wouldn’t like it — and they are kind of supposed to be the target audience, and if that’s not justification enough for you, I don’t know what is. But the movie gets way deeper than this. It’s like there is an entire additional layer waiting to be explored by adults. Like all the sex jokes that candid, pure kids will never catch in a million years — even though there aren’t many in Inside Out, sorry pervs — but not only (and fortunately).

  • The island of friendship might look sweet and all, but it reveals insecurities, deep-down fears about losing one’s friends and being forgotten as one. Unsettling, isn’t it?
  • When you nourish a toxic idea long enough and it takes over your mind, you end up completely numb and unable to feel anything. Did you experience that at some point?
  • What about Bing Bong, the imaginary friend Riley has forgotten and replaced by fantasies over the perfect boyfriend? How was your Bing Bong called?
  • Remember all this awesome stuff you did in the past? No you don’t, these are memories you just won’t remember, and realizing that you will never get them back hurts like hell.
Inside Out - Memory orb

A memory orb in Inside Out — © Disney

Who has never wondered whether it was true that when we die, we get to see our whole life unfold before our eyes one last time? Then how much do you think you have forgotten? How much beauty do you think you have overlooked? How much happiness do you think you have hold between your very hands without knowing? Damn, that’s deep.

Honorable mentions — because you’re worth it

Voice acting:
It is no secret, Disney has got plenty of money. Even though sometimes they want even more and decide to ruin franchises to ‘milk the cow’ — not always though — the good thing about it is that they can afford world-class actors for dubbing. And it is always a delight to recognize some from The Office (Sadness), Parks and Recreation (Joy)…

Favorite scene:
Definitely when we get in the head of the boy, for obvious reasons. The brain fart — or total freeze, actually — when he is confronted to a girl is just 100% fun. And I totally can’t relate, you know. Nope, never happened. To be fair, I did have a good time with the ‘Dream Production’ movie studio: the breaking of the fourth wall there was the icing on the cake. And everybody likes icing on cake. Everybody likes icing. Everybody likes cake.

Credits and shorts:
Please remain seated for the whole duration of the flight. I mean, of the movie. The scenes in the credits are worth watching too! We get to see what is going on inside the teacher’s head — and as I will probably end up teaching, I painfully enjoyed laughing at her depressed mind — inside a dog’s, and inside a cat’s  — I’m more of a dog person, but cats rock too, mostly because they act fucked up, and because they are fluffy.
I have to include the bonus short videos which you can find on the internet (like Riley’s first date): just for the AC/DC reference and the parents kissing, they deserve two thumbs up.


“Take her to the moon for me, okay?”
“After all, Riley’s twelve now. What could happen?”
“These facts and opinions look so similar!..
– Don’t worry about it. Happens all the time.”

Whether they be tear-jerking, or genuinely smile-worthy, they are part of a whole, they contribute to teaching you valuable lessons. The different islands you had before can eventually collapse, disappear altogether. It is okay to cry and let sadness take over, for it has a cathartic effect. And there is always way, way, way much more to come.

Final word

Let us all take a moment to appreciate and thank Disney for having made Inside Out one of those animated movies with a female lead character without her being a princess — but who am I kidding, we both know there will be more Elsa and more Let It Go and more headaches and more suicidal tendencies… Disney is good at this: you will enjoy the movie as a child, you will enjoy it all the same as an adult. Such a shame some disregard animated movies because they are so insecure about their adulthood. Zbra! Shots fired!

In the next episode, we’ll see all about how drugs and sex will ruin her teenager years and mess up her entire brain. Looking forward to it! More seriously, Inside Out offers a deeply beautiful lesson in emotions. It leaves you thinking way too much for what it is. You’d expect to be watching just one more regular animated movie, but you’d be wrong. I would say it is no wonder why it got an Oscar, but Nicolas Cage got one too, so, meh.