Growing up can be a bumpy road.
I think it's safe to say that since Toy Story 3, Pixar has been in a bit of a 'slump'. After that film, the company released Cars 2, the only Pixar film with a "Certified Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes (38%). It was Pixar's first critical flop. Then came Brave and Monsters University, which weren't panned per-say, but weren't celebrated either. Critically, they were both middle of the road movies - something Pixar just wasn't used to. Now normally, after three critical misses, this might make me shy away from a company's next project...but this is Pixar, and they couldn't turn into that company, right? That company that just churns out movies each year for dollars...right?
Enter: Inside Out. A movie about how someone's emotions and memories help them navigate through life.
When I walked out of the theater, I couldn't help but think...that would be really tough for a kid to understand. Then, I realized something...Pixar had hoodwinked us. All of us. They didn't make Inside Out for kids...this isn't a kids movie at all. They'd made a movie for teens. They'd made a movie for parents. They'd made a movie explaining and educating us around depression, and it's a movie that gets depression. Depression isn't sadness. It's the complete lack of emotion, the lack of Joy and Sadness.
One thing that makes Pixar great is the small details they put into their movie, and that philosophy is on full display here. The inner-workings of the mind of a human being, all of those idiosyncrasies we have are shown to us in ways we hadn't thought of before. The reason old memories fade. A throw-away gag about facts vs. opinions. Imagination. That imaginary friend. Bing-Bong...oh, Bing-Bong. There's just so much to unpack here, so much that just needs to be seen.
One particular detail that really stands out is the mind's control panel. In Riley, an 11 year old, her panel is wrestled over by different emotions, male and female. There's one control, and whichever emotion is at the controls is pulling the strings. However, in older people (like her parents), the control panel is larger, governed by one main emotion, but controlled by all of them at once, and all with the same identity (all male or female, all look alike, etc.), as they've matured. It's a small detail that children won't understand, but adults will. This is a movie that will grow with you.
The message here is that it's okay to have sadness...that we need sadness. Memories aren't tainted by it, they're enhanced. The night I saw it, I just kept thinking about my memories...the ones that were yellow...the ones that were blue...the ones that were mixed. I thought about those memories that were once yellow, then turned blue. I thought about the main character in the movie, Joy, and how even she was a mix of yellow and blue...because sometimes, you can't have one without the other.