Movie Review: Inside Out

Inside Out by Disney Pixar
Inside Out by Disney Pixar

“Happiness transcends past and future. Awakening of your real nature. You have projected your universe.” Papaji, Eastern spiritual master

Kudos to Pixar for creating another thought provoking animated children’s movie! I initially went to see Inside Out with a friend on a movie special night after a losing game of bingo. Bingo may have been a bust, but Inside Out was a total win. Cute characters, psychologically challenging themes, and raw emotion make Inside Out a colorful film for all ages.

Initially, the film seemed to be out of my age range. Why would I want to see a cartoon? And then again, why not? To me Inside Out joins the lovable league of animated films such as Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., Despicable Me, Up, and that touching robot film I don’t remember but has no words.

There were a few key points to Inside Out that expressed insanely high-level metaphysical concepts in a simple way. The film centers on the inner workings of each individual person. People in this film have a central station of core emotions—disgust, fear, anger, sadness, and joy—which control and label the person’s memory born by life experiences.

Modern stereotypes apply here, with hyper-emotional Joy and Sadness as ladies, Disgust as a self-absorbed Mean Girl fashion-snob, Fear as an insecure Bill Nye nerd, and Anger as a frustrated white-collar worker man who seems to have spent one day too many in rush-hour traffic. Their color-coding reflects psychology’s principles of colors relative to personality: yellow to Joy, green with envy, feeling sand and blue, and fiery hot red Anger. Together the emotions make up the mind concept of conditioning that creates the illusion of separation between all of us.

Core emotions Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, and Anger.
Colorful core emotions Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, and Anger.

This sounds familiar from my intro to psych class…possibly a Freudian concept or Maslow. I’m guessing Freud because of the 80% majority of ruminating emotions. The optimistic deconstructionist in me wishes for other happy characters…missing love, beauty, happiness, peace; however, they come to be from the joy-despair-friends-are-everything plot resolution. At the end they even boldly suggest that animals like cats and dogs share consciousness by showing their own little (albeit limited–meow) mind characters. Sweet!

Aside from my absolute favorite quote from this movie (I was rolling at Anger’s “Congratulations San Diego, you ruined pizza!!!” Friend caught the broccoli pizza place was called Eden’s Yeast. I love clever animators.) I thought it was cool that the person started out “Tabula Rossa,” or blank slate—Latin, and formed key personality traits from reactions to experiences and long-term stored memory. This is a rather progressive assertion that promotes the idea of free will. That is, aside from being controlled by five little mischievous monsters.

The mini-monster’s presence is perhaps an inadvertent breakthrough to enlightened way of thinking. The English language depicts a separation of mind and body through parts of speech by acknowledging, “my body hurts,” or “I don’t feel like myself.” Spanish language is similar but reflects a fundamental difference in values, culture, as seen in language—which I find fascinating but for another time. Spanish-speakers don’t claim possessive ownership over “las manos” or the hands, hair, etc. In Inside Out, the mini-monsters draw attention to “mind concept” (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now) or having a separation of eternal true self and superficial, attached mind-drama. Drama definitely unfolds as the plot unwinds and Joy and Sadness break their little girl from the inside out.

Further, Eastern spiritual master, Papaji, says that the “mind is graveyard.”In this graveyard, the past passes through the present. In Inside, Out, the mind literally becomes a graveyard in which ordinary, insignificant thoughts are deleted—but not eliminated. The subconscious mind also makes an appearance as a symbolically wild jungle locked away literally below the depths of personality. Pretty brilliant IMO!

As Tolle demonstrates in his own awakening in The Power of Now, an individual’s unpleasant experience breaks the attachment to the material mind-controlled world and thrusts the perceiver into awakening. Again, Inside Out turns this concept on the literal in a scene where Joy and Sadness are trying to get the girl to awaken. They are trying to make her awaken so that the Train of Thought may return to run its course because the mind’s train of thought cannot be active in dormant, dreaming sleep (again, brilliant!).

In this scene, Joy optimistically wants to make the girl awaken with happiness. Sadness knows, however, that fear is the best way to jolt her up. As with Tolle, transcendence and awakening from the dream-state comes when sadness outweighs joy. In comes Scary Clown Nightmare, down goes Fear. Easy as vegan pizza.

Ultimately, Inside Out is a fundamentally advanced work for a child’s creativity made by wise adults. This strange movie is deeper than the “mind graveyard” it projects. However, whether this deep film is a conscious or subconscious projection from Pixar is yet to be seen. After all, it does reference liberal San Diego and I imagine the Califonian-creatives know a thing or two about spirituality. Creativity is a high-conscious correlation.

“Humor is essential, laughter is love and compassion. Laughter is creativity and youth. Creativity emerges from novelty, enhanced and kindled by childlike perspective. Keeping curious, ‘why’ like a child to get beyond fixed way of thinking.” ~Papaji


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