Let me put it out there straight away – I am an Amy Poehler fan.
So there’s already a certain amount of bias from me before I even went to see the new Disney/Pixar animated flick Inside Out.
As expected, this sweet flick about the five emotions (Joy, Fear, Disgust, Sadness and Anger) inside an 11-year-old girl’s head, made me sob, guffaw, sob and reminisce about my own childhood. And sob. Did I mention that? This is a real doozy with switching on the waterworks. Which is also expected, considering it’s co-directed by Pete Doctor, who wrote and co-directed that other beautiful tearjerker Up.
But it’s also not just an intelligent, thought-provoking children’s movie. Inside Out is much more than that.
It’s a movie every child and adult should watch as an important lesson in mental health.
In Inside Out, Poehler voices the blue-haired, pixie-looking emotion Joy. No surprises there, considering the ever-optimistic attitude of many of Poehler’s characters, including Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation.
But Inside Out teaches us it’s not healthy to just have one emotion dominating all the time, as Poehler pointed out in this interview with The Guardian:
“I feel no one can be Joy all the time (and) I think the film reminds us that we have all the feelings and emotions running through our head,” she said.
“Joy has a really great arc in the film. She goes from thinking, she’s very single minded and thinking that happiness is the number one pursuit, to realising she needs to work with Sadness to get anywhere and she herself gets sad for the first time.”
Happiness seems to be the sole goal of our modern society, but to be constantly happy is not realistic. It makes it hard when social media demands we only ever present a shiny, positive image to others. But I’m always curious about what’s on the left and right of that frame – where the truth and realism lie. Our experiences don’t ever have to be defined as one singular feeling. When we’re on a rollercoaster, we can be scared and excited. Sometimes we can be so mad or exasperated at someone, but then they make you laugh. And sometimes we’re sad – and we’re allowed to be.
Sure this is all a bit deep for a children’s movie, but it’s still a message that seeps through in a fun, incredibly imaginative way in Inside Out. And it’s an important one, particularly for children today, who I believe are facing so many more challenges than I did at their age.
I didn’t have to worry about Facebook, or Instagram. I could go home and switch off. But in a world that is always buzzing, always online, always demanding interaction, I think education on mental health is necessary to ensure people lead balanced lives.
So Inside Out may not be the greatest animated movie I’ve ever seen, but I think it’s one of the most important.
Just remember to take tissues.