Being a technology start-up focused on emotional intelligence for youngsters, we couldn’t help but jump at the chance to take a BodiMojo field trip to see the new Pixar film, Inside Out. With reviews for this charming children’s film a flutter, we took a different approach and, instead reviewed each character in relation to how well we thought they represented each emotion they were designed to.
(Photo via forbes.com)
Read on to read a few BodiMojo team members’ takes on the film:
Fear, By Kayla Yates, Northeastern University Undergraduate Student ’16 and BodiMojo Intern
Meet Fear: A lanky, purple figure with bulging, beady eyes and shivering shoulders. The character Fear in Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, anthropomorphizes the thrilling emotion of fear itself. As Bill Hader, the voice of Fear, explains, Fear is there to keep Riley, the protagonist of the film, safe. While there is something to be said for keeping one safe, fear can at times get in the way, overpower the mind and distort reality. Sometimes, we need to push through fear and jump off that high dive at the town pool because the feelings of gratification and satisfaction that follow are arguably more important and influential than that initial desire to avoid a seemingly frightful jump. Occasionally, when we challenge fear and pacify those voices of insecurity, we realize our inner strength, discover new passions, and learn to trust ourselves. So while fear can protect, it can also motivate. When we employ techniques of mindfulness, meditation, and breathing, we can actively acknowledge fear, accept it, and use it to invigorate rather than debilitate. These essential skills embrace the many facets of fear, such as stress, anxiety, and worry, from a place of strength rather than one of regression.
In creating an identity for each emotion, director, Pete Docter, made those feelings of sadness, joy, anger, disgust, and fear more accessible for children, as well as adults. Learning how to make peace with one’s emotions and modulate those thoughts and feelings we are inundated with on a daily basis is an important skill. So, I encourage you to consider what fear looks like for you. Mine for instance, sports a costume of colorful animal prints, for all those unexpected brawls in the wild.
Joy and Sadness, By Meagan Dobson, BodiMojo Writer and Marketing Support
Juxtasposing these opposite emotions was a great choice for Inside Out Director, Pete Docter. The film begins with Joy in the drivers seat of the young girl, and main character, Riley’s emotions. Joy directs the other characters along the journey of a move from Riley’s home town in the Midwest, to San Francisco. Joy does a great job in the beginning part of the film keeping the other characters, which represent other less positive emotions, in check. She pushes aside Fear and Disgust to take the reins of Riley’s life and even manages to motivate Sadness.
Keeping Joy in the driver’s seat of life initially shows us the positive impact Joy has on life, and it’s ability to overrule other emotions and keep them at bay to lead a positive lifestyle. The science behind positive thinking and it’s link to overall health and wellness is overwhelming. Take a look at some previous BodiMojo blog posts on studies such as Gratitude and Positive Thinking for further details on this relationship. For me, Joy was demonstrative of this very endeavor.
In comes Sadness. Later in the film, Joy loses her rein over Riley’s emotions and goes on a journey away with Sadness from Riley’s, “Control Center (see the film and you will understand better).” Sadness is a wonderfully entertaining character in the film. Slightly humorous and painfully consistent, Sadness is truly demonstrative of the feeling it is designed to represent. Sadness continuously reacts in a negative aspect to Joy’s decisions and ideas, and Joy steps in consistently to encourage her to look at the positives. This interrelationship was a smart choice for Docter and I feel that in life, Joy comes in to save the day for Sadness just as consistently as these two feelings did in the film. Meanwhile, back at “Control Center,” Disgust, Fear and Anger are ruling Riley’s emotions.
The mere fact that the director chose to take Joy and Sadness on a journey away and leave Fear, Disgust, and Anger in control makes perfect sense to me. We would be naive to say that we are always in a state of Joy, and even more naive to think that Joy is the only emotion that drives our lives. We are human beings, we are not always in a joyous state and it’s important to let ourselves feel the other feelings too. In reviewing these two characters, I think the two played well in showing how Joy can influence Sadness and vice versa, but I feel that overall Joy played the strongest emotion in reigning in all feelings to make life much more enjoyable for Riley. In life, we can always come back to Joy.
Anger and Disgust, By BodiMojo CEO + Founder, Dr. Tara Cousineau
Love the red little guy! Maybe it’s because I was a temper tantrum kid that I wanted to see more of Anger, voiced by comedian Louis Black. Anger is a difficult emotion that can be appropriate at times (like when Riley finds out she has to move away from the comfort of home and her BFFs). It’s also an important emotion in understanding the ups and downs of emotional life and what’s happening inside the brain. In Inside Out, Sadness and Joy were locked out for quite a while as command central was going bonkers. That’s when Anger and the other sidekicks, Disgust and Fear, went into full panic (“There’s nothing working! Why isn’t it working?”) and motivated Riley into action. She made a conscious decision to grab her mom’s credit card, get a bus ticket and then run away. That also took a good dose of courage, too!
Where was the fist-pounding, wailing meltdown? Every kid loses it from time to time and to see Riley do so would have been excruciatingly entertaining to be sure. Who couldn’t relate? It would also be instructive for viewers. How does one calm down when so upset? A rational conversation by mom or dad would not work well. But connecting with an understanding parent certainly would, including naming the emotions and engaging in calming skills (breathing, a hug, and mindfulness). I’ll imagine that a scene with Anger was left on the cutting floor. Or else I will wait until Inside Out 2. (There will be one, right, Pixar?) That’s when I hope the “puberty button” gets pushed! Let’s see what adventures Riley’s internal voices embark on and what happens in her morphing brain once she’s a teenager. And that’s when I imagine Disgust will reveal her true sassy self.
With that said, we hope you will take a trip to see, Inside Out, for yourself and let us know what you think of the characters.
1) California Science Center. http://www.fearexhibit.org/brain/brain_structures. Accessed July 20, 2015.
2) Disney.com. Inside Out. http://movies.disney.com/inside-out/#!characters/fear/. Accessed July 20, 2015.
3) Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School (2011). Understanding the Stress Response. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response. Accessed July 20, 2015.
4) Stuart, Annie (2007). Childhood Fears and Anxieties: Experts describe how parents can help when their child is afraid. WedMD. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/childhood-fears-anxieties. Accessed July 20, 2015.
5) Tovote, Philip., Fadok, Jonathan Paul., Luthi, Andreas (2015). Neuronal circuits for fear and anxiety. Nature. 16, 317–331 doi:10.1038/nrn3945.