Generation gap: Pondering the intricacies of Pixar’s Inside Out

Culture Film

Kathleen Ross is an eleven-year-old girl, just like Inside Out’s protagonist, Riley. Stephen is a grouchy professor who kind of hates everything just as a default. The two sat down to talk about Pixar’s latest film.

"Inside Out" posits the question: what if feelings had feelings? Image credit by Pixar.
“Inside Out” posits the question: what if feelings had feelings? Image credit by Pixar

Stephen: So, what’d you think?

Kathleen: It was good.

Stephen: What did you like?

Kathleen: I liked how all the feelings had senses of humour. Like when Joy tried to keep Sadness in a little circle. And when Anger said, “Thanks San Francisco! You ruined pizza!”

Stephen: Did you think it really showed what it’s like to be a kid?

Kathleen: Yes. Adults need to understand that sometimes it’s very hard to be a kid.

Stephen: Did you think the feelings inside Riley’s head were like the feelings inside your head?

Kathleen: Yes, but they should have used Anxiety instead of Fear.

Stephen: That was one thing I didn’t like too.

Kathleen: I liked that it was about an eleven-year-old girl — that there’s a movie about a girl who’s just a normal kid, not a superstar or hero or something.

Stephen: Agreed.

Kathleen: I also liked that they made it seem like it is OK to feel sad sometimes.

Stephen: That’s a good point. But I just thought that it’s not really a movie about Riley’s sadness. It’s really just about Sadness and Joy getting lost and having to find their way back to headquarters. And Riley’s not supposed to be able to feel Sadness or Joy while they are away, but she’s miserable the whole time!

Kathleen: What about Bing Bong? I really liked him!

Stephen: Sure. His theme song is a rip-off of SpongeBob’s theme song, and he fits the Disney mold perfectly — the plucky helper who sacrifices himself for the hero. (yawns)

Kathleen: He was kind of freakish. But I liked him a lot. I also loved the part where they show how dreams are produced and then Sadness and Joy try to crash a dream. And when they showed inside other peoples’ heads, too — that part was funny!

Stephen: The last five minutes were the best because they went into lots of characters’ heads.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Stephen: Still, if it was going to try to be really funny, they could have focused on that. But everyone is going on about how insightful this movie is, and I just don’t see it. It’s not really about an eleven-year-old girl at all. It’s a buddy movie where the buddies don’t get along at first and then finally learn to cooperate. We don’t really learn anything about adolescent girls. There’s no complexity beyond the fact that you need both Joy and Sadness to be whole. If that’s really the best we can do in terms of young women’s subjectivity, then we really are doomed. I think you are way more complex than that, and I’d have liked this movie to show that.

Kathleen: Well maybe I should make a movie about it, then.

Stephen: I think I’d like that.