A movie review by Michelle Garcia Winner
Inside Out, the new movie by Disney-Pixar, is like taking a Disneyland ride through the way the brain works. The movie was action-packed as we watched the interplay of five emotions (joy, anger, disgust, sadness, and fear) within the brain of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who struggles emotionally with a recent move from her home in the Midwest to San Francisco. The cute way in which Disney-Pixar created characters to represent each of the emotions will definitely appeal to young and old children and encourage many positive discussions. While the movie is marketed to younger children many of the ideas and themes will best be interpreted by older children (adolescents). As in a Disney ride, we were whipped around through a lot of fascinating information about the brain, but we never got to stay in one place very long to learn about any of the concepts in depth.
In an NPR interview on June 13th, the movie’s director Pete Docter mentioned they took liberties with the information they used to build the movie (not all facts presented were factual!). So I left the movie a tad bit confused and a bit discouraged that it was not a better teaching tool for children about how their emotions work with memory and thought to create self-regulation in each of our brains. But then I got inspired thinking that we have many lessons we can teach based on the flaws in the movie! For example, a real problem for me was that Riley never took control of her emotions (cognitively)— instead her emotions controlled her. That’s a problem! So let’s have our kids discuss and learn strategies about how they can take control of their emotions. Riley also ended up running away from home (although she decided to turn back). Let’s work with our kids on ways they can initiate communication when they feel sad or worried or left out so they can solve problems before they turn into bigger problems for everyone.
By summer’s end, Pam Crooke and I, with help from others in our Social Thinking Training and Speakers’ Collaborative, plan to write an article with more ideas about lessons inspired from the movie. But for now… we hope this gets you thinking!