I got to watch the movie “Inside Out” on DVD this Friday night with my church family.
Spoilers ahead- read at your own risk.
The story is of 5 personified emotions inside a young girl’s mind and how they tackle new challenges the girl, Riley, faces when she moves to a new city with her family. The aim of the 5 emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger & Disgust is to together help the girl, Riley, behave in a manner that makes happy memories for her and to ensure she has had a good day with great memories.
The movie imaginatively shows Riley’s mind as a vast land with a Headquarters tower. The 5 emotions live at Headquarters and operate Riley’s mind from a console. Riley’s mind-land also has islands that define Riley’s personality – Family Island, Hockey Island, so on – along with massive long-term memory storage racks, trains of thought and other stunningly creative features.
One day, the Headquarters has nothing less than a nervous breakdown when two emotions, Joy and Sadness, are ejected out of HQ in an accident and land up far, far away from their workplace. Joy needs to get back to Headquarters as soon as possible, because – unless Joy is present to control Riley’s mind, how will she ever be happy again?
We are led to believe Joy needs to somehow make the long journey back to Headquarters and the character Sadness is really just a cumbersome companion. But the movie excels at least when it shows some insights into the validity & even necessity of culturally unpopular emotions like Sadness.
When Happiness is Useless
At the risk of sounding like I’m promoting skepticism – I’m not- here are some instances the emotion Joy turns out to be not helpful in the movie.
On their desperate journey back to HQ, Joy & Sadness run into a dejected character called Bing Bong. Joy, with her vivacious nature and eagerness to see others happy, tries to cheer up Bing Bong in various ways. While Joy all but fails Sadness, instead of quick-fixing the situation, identifies their new friend’s emotion rightly. She acknowledges Bing Bong’s sadness and hears him out, which helps him more than easy, positive emotionalism ever did.
Later on, when Riley, who is now running on a regular dose of Fear, Anger & Disgust, decides to leave home and is at the risk of not feeling any emotion forever, it’s Sadness’ timely intervention which drives her back to her family and leads Riley to reconcile with her parents.
In fact, Joy lets Sadness control the console completely and even affect Riley’s core memories. Riley breaks down in her parents’ embrace, confessing how she had been missing her old hometown, school & friends. Then Sadness let Joy affect Riley and thus they create a new memory where there’s happiness in the midst of sorrow! The movie ends on a good note shortly after this.
I was quite excited to have watched the movie. One scene that stunned me is about that often unnoticed miracle in God’s creation – the human brain. As the movie begins, Riley has been just born into this world and as she opens her eyes, we get the first peek into her mind – the emotions start coming up one by one, her first memory is formed and things start rolling for an epic creation, a girl made in God’s image, though marred, opening her eyes and smiling. What a mystery is the beginning of life and what an experience to enter a new world!
What I Need to Learn from “Inside Out”
I think one great lesson I could learn from “Inside Out” is to be alert enough to recognize which emotion is influencing my thoughts at any given moment. I also need discernment to understand where people around me are at with their emotions.
Sadly, I am not a person who is caring enough to always perceive the right emotional state of my friends and members of my family or church family. I am only too prone to not listen carefully and respond unempathetically whether in person or on WhatsApp, that perennial ally of deceptive communication of emotions.
I will also please the Lord, I am sure, if I learn to display & control emotions as Christ displayed & controlled His, fully yielded to God the Holy Spirit.
Happiness, derived not from what we love to indulge in, but from having a lovely, holy relationship with God our Father.
Disgust, not at fashion sense, but at sin that grieves God.
Sadness, not just at my sins against God the Father, but at the fact that Jesus graciously bore responsibility for them, when He was perfectly innocent. Oh, what is this Love!
Anger, not when I am not given what I “deserve”, but anger weak or underprivileged people are deprived of true justice by others.
Fear, of not what people might think, but of what Jesus would declare about me when this world finally shuts down and we all finally meet Him.
Methinks my emotions need a detox of me and an instead an infusion of Jesus.
The message of how Sadness can help people, meets the Christian faith as I understand, at two points at least:
1) The importance of Sadness in Christian songs.
2) The importance of Sadness in conversion & repentance.
I will share my thoughts on these in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, if you’ve not watched “Inside Out” yet, please go get a DVD and get your friends and family around to watch this highly creative and well-done animation movie.
Here’s an article from TGC, on why parents should take children to watch “Inside Out”.
What was your favourite scene in the movie? What did you not like so much? Share your thoughts!