I didn't know how they were going to pull it off. I'm talking about Disney•Pixar here.
I had seen the cute trailers and even watched the first 20 minutes of the new Disney•Pixar film, 'Inside Out,' and I was still unconvinced that they could pull off what they were attempting.
In this brilliant animated feature, Pixar uses the actual feelings of sweet 11-year-old Riley as comedic characters to tell the story of her emotional turmoil as her parents move her from the security of her idyllic childhood in Minnesota to all the unknowns of a new life in San Francisco.
Before I go on, I have to confess that at that point I was already feeling all the feels, as that was my own childhood story. Having been the newly exiled Cuban child in the U.S. and again moving from a new life I had already embraced in Florida to the unknowns of California.
Riley, I'm sooo feeling you.
Jockeying for top position from one moment to the next, her conflicting emotions - Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust - take turns to take on the dominant role. This very human, but very abstract concept is astonishingly played out into a film that takes turns being funny, unpredictable, fabulously colorful, yet beautiful and incredibly profound.
I'd like to stop right here and give Pixar a standing ovation and ask forgiveness for doubting. (I know. Shut up.)
I don't want to give too much away, but the truth is, of the five emotions, we, the viewers are really, really rooting for Joy (Amy Poehler) to overcome Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) in the battle for influence over Riley's state of mind.
Kids will grasp the entire concept as easily as adults will, because the things happening in Riley’s external life are so compelling. She's adjusting to a new city, home, and school. With the move, she loses her friends and the way things were 'back home.'
Again. Riley. Seriously, babe. I'm sooo feeling you.
It was a relief to me that Riley was equipped with only five emotions because I was already 'roller-coastering' along with her in her new life in San Francisco. But how would they resolve the ultimate conflict between Joy and Sadness??
Ah, but that's the genius of Pixar. Not only do they resolve it, they do it in a super satisfying way. Kudos to Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera. They take you from wanting everything to be happy all the time, because... JOY! to helping you embrace the place that Sadness plays in our own inner dialogue. *mind blown*
My take-away is that Joy is not the only worthy emotion. Our lives can only be emotionally rich if we're open to Sadness, too. And yet, in all of this conflicting emotion, it never turns too serious or starts becoming too preachy.
Just go. See the film. It's fantastic. You may or may not find yourself laughing and crying (as I did) from one moment to the next and having Deep Thoughts about your own guiding emotions.
'Inside Out' is being shown with a new Pixar short, 'Lava,' which is nothing short of delightful. The director, James Ford Murphy creates a musical romance starring two Hawaiian volcanoes that spans millions of years in about 7 minutes. Genius.
*bows down low to the Brilliant Storytellers at Pixar*
'Inside Out' opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, June 19th, 2015.