the malleability of memory: Pixar's "Inside Out"
June 24, 2015 7:27 PM   Subscribe

 
I saw this movie, I enjoyed this movie, not once during this movie did I ponder or care about whether some sort of psychiatric "accuracy" was being observed...come on who even cares about that?

I did find myself wondering for a moment why I Do Whatever Feels Good wasn't portly and sluggish and I Am Melancholy Incarnate wasn't rail thin and bossy, but I didn't linger on it and don't want to see essays on it.
posted by trackofalljades at 7:41 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pop Culture Happy Hour, the NPR podcast, was recently gushing about this film.

Pixar's next film is going to have to make you physically levitate to Nirvana to surpass these reviews.
posted by GuyZero at 7:44 PM on June 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I saw this movie, I enjoyed this movie, not once during this movie did I ponder or care

its a friggan cartoon. (bttw my neighbor opened 2 bottles of wine and im drunk) but at the end of the film there's the inside of a few other people including a dog and cat and those scenes are just exactly perfect and accurate.


bettr go now
posted by sammyo at 7:49 PM on June 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's useful to have a kid-friendly way to visualize being physically disconnected from one's emotions, especially when that disconnect is so often thought of as a fixable character defect. "Disrupted wiring" replacing "You're broken as a person" is OK by me, and so much the better if the messenger is a popular movie.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:52 PM on June 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


Herman's Headshrinker.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:52 PM on June 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed the movie a lot, and I'm very curious what kids would make of it. It seemed to be much more geared to an adult perspective on memory and nostalgia, but maybe it works at both levels - did anybody see it with their kids?
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:54 PM on June 24, 2015


So weird, people seem love this movie and I'm kinda meh about it. Everything feels ridiculously simplified, in a distracting way.

And Bing Bong was irritating, like a being force fed sugary pancakes. But sadness turning out to be the heroine was great though. I do hope they do sequels though, lots of great potential there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Review from a 6 year old... "This is boring, we're out of popcorn. Can we leave?"
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:00 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


LM, I saw it with a six year girl who really seemed to enjoy it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


There were a lot of interesting concepts they wanted to do that didn't make the final cut. So you KNOW there will be an Inside Out 2 (and 3...)

After all, "IO" did set some records as the biggest opening weekend for a movie that was not a sequel, prequel, remake or based-on-something-else and the second-highest Pixar opening ever (behind Toy Story 3), but also the first Pixar movie NOT to be #1 box office it's opening week because of those damned dinos.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:02 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Related, previously on Metafilter.

I’m not sure when it began, but I feel I’ve seen a glut of “What [work of fiction] gets [right/wrong] about [subject]” articles lately. There's something blinkered about looking for factual accuracy in fiction. I like how Werner Herzog talks about the difference between the accountant's truth and the poet's truth.

"Yes, [the movie] perpetuates some myths about memory, but to be fair, the focus is on feelings, and it conveys the relationship between memory and emotion well. Plus, it’s a fun adventure story with a terrific message that is well worth watching."

Well, so long as you can strip-mine art for a "message," I suppose that makes sitting through all the made-up nonsense worthwhile.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 8:19 PM on June 24, 2015 [8 favorites]


This was the first article I read about Inside Out so it's interesting that those who are interviewing/close to the advisors call it accurate but those who aren't have some concerns. Not that I strictly think either are right.

Furthermore, the emotions and behaviors of Riley are depicted using the same framework that adults often use to interpret their emotions. This misses the mark.

Children aren’t simply little adults; as developmental psychologists like Urie Bronfenbrenner have noted, it’s important to take into account the extent to which children are embedded in systems like family and school, where parents and teachers play a huge role in teaching children Riley’s age how to mediate their feelings.

Most 11-year-olds can tell you that they have feelings – and can name a few (though most would not name Disgust) – but more often than not, these feelings can overwhelm them. Adults, then, help them understand and make sense of their feelings, which is a gradual process.
In the end, the different characters for the emotions are altogether too mechanistic. It might be a nice way to show children that they have feelings, but it’s not really the way feelings work.

My therapist recommended it, and saw it with her kids, and said it is good for showing a way to externalise and distance oneself from an emotional reaction - feelings aren't truth was the phrase that came up. friend saw it with her wee little one and he started using more formal ways of defining his emotions based on the characters, which she said was actually pretty good.

I think it's a little asnine to expect professionals to see a movie that relates to their area and NOT bring their education and knowledge to bear on it. I'm personally interested in what psychologists and other professionals have to say about Inside Out - certainly more interested in their opinions and thoughts than, say, "I had no thoughts and this is how all media should be approached" or "it's just fiction why think" and so on.

You bring in specialists and advisors, you are aiming for some semblance of correctness, so I don't see why it's odd for professionals to comment on that.

I'll probably see it on the weekend with my anxiety prone six year old, I'll report back.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:37 PM on June 24, 2015 [17 favorites]


I will be seeing it Sunday with my Dad. He just likes anything with 3D graphics and any excuse for us to get together. We do a lot of movies in summer blockbuster season, did the dinos last week, but we usually don't hit the kid animated stuff.

It was hard to ignore all the great reviews of this though. Dad has had some trouble with his own emotions since Mom died. He has spoken of having trouble sometimes controlling them. If the movie has spoken so true to adolescents who have a similar problem I'm hoping it might help him a bit too.

And if not, hey 3D.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:56 PM on June 24, 2015 [7 favorites]


I saw it with a seven year old, an eleven year old, and a teen (mixed genders). All really loved it, and we are going back to see it. There were lots of interesting conversations, especially about the memories that disappeared. One thing I thought was interesting was that the adult mother had all female-gendered emotions, and the father had all-male gendered emotions but the eleven year old had mixed. Although the obvious gendering of joy, disgust, and sadness as female and anger and fear as male was an interesting choice.
posted by saucysault at 9:10 PM on June 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


I saw it today b/c my children's school sent every class to the movie both yesterday & today so I volunteered for the field trip. I'm not a person who cries at movies since I'm all like "oh I can feel you manipulating my emotions" most of the time, but I totally cried at this movie.

I don't know that I cried for the same reasons others have cried when watching this. I cried because I know the disorientation of moving (I suppose I moved 30 times in the first 30 years of my life). I cried because it's obvious to me the girl at the heart of the movie is depressed (the "can't feel", losing all ties to her "personality islands") and I too deal with depression and the emotion-numbing that it brings. I cried because Sadness is acknowledged as necessary & useful, which is so affirming to hear reflected back to me since being sad is all too often washed aside as a useless, debilitating emotion.

I still feel the movie was rather privileged and lovely in a way that is not as messy as it wants to be (the girl at the center of the movie, after all, has two parents who love her & who express it freely and are quite solidly available to her) but it spoke to me, the idea of feelings so aware, and so nuanced, in a way that we don't see depicted societally - that the expectation to be happy all the time requires repression of other valid feelings - as well as the idea that becoming a teenager is an upheaval in your personality to all that has come before, and that it's not something evil, it just *is*, in a way we could all stand to hear more often.
posted by flex at 9:58 PM on June 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


I saw it with my almost-5yo. During the part where I was getting the most choked up, she was clinging to her mom with tears streaming down her cheeks. So I think Pixar managed to give kids and adults the same emotions at the same time, for the same reason!

That's no small feat. Telling jokes that go over kids' heads while simultaneously having characters do pratfalls is a lot easier.
posted by gurple at 10:14 PM on June 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I've been having a difficult (lolunderstatement) time lately and almost skipped out because the scene in the trailers we saw a few months back, where sadness comes over the memory, hurt a lot. Given the last kid's movie I watched made my cry so hard and so long that my shirt was wet from collar to chest, and I came home and took to my bed for a few hours, I don't know if I'll be able to breathe through it.

But like I said, therapist recommended!
posted by geek anachronism at 10:53 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Annecdatum: saw it yesterday as a family (me, wife, boy 14, girl 11). Girl lurved this movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and boy and wife liked it pretty well. I know Pixar tried hard to get it "right" while also keeping it a kids movie and not a documentary. (Citation: I read the IMDB trivia on it, so it's gotta be true.)

I give 'em high marks all around for attention to detail and effort. It felt like the underpinnings were based more in science than pop-science. And compared to the nonsense of Cars II, this was Hamlet-level character introspection.
posted by mosk at 11:07 PM on June 24, 2015


My 5 year old daughter loved it so much, that she went and saw it a second time over the weekend
posted by growabrain at 11:36 PM on June 24, 2015


We all become Bing Bong.
posted by maxsparber at 1:00 AM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


A lot of the press about the movie talks about the "Basic Emotion Theory" of Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman as though it is some sort of scientific truth, when my cursory searches suggest that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the idea that there are "basic emotions".

I have only seen the trailers, the initial one seemed to be shockingly clichéd stereotypes of gender roles and unimaginative that I find all the fuss about this movie discombobulating.
posted by mary8nne at 1:38 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


The moment where Sadness sits and comforts Bing Bong... Sadness can be empathetic because sadness really knows what you're going through. Joy just wants you to cheer up. So perfect.

(My wife went in expecting to hate it because she didn't think Disney had any business trying to address depression - both she and I are depressed people - and she's now seen it twice)
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:35 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


A (gasp!) critical review of Inside Out.
posted by fairmettle at 2:51 AM on June 25, 2015


I gotta say, love them or hate them Pixar does a good job in creating movies that people love to talk about,

Myself, I've loved most of them.
posted by edgeways at 4:34 AM on June 25, 2015


My 7 year old has been having some trouble wrangling his emotions lately. He also gets really really emotionally invested in any movie we watch. He wanted to leave during the tough parts of Inside Out, but we stuck it out and he loved the movie. He's been doing better at emotion wrangling too.
posted by sciurus at 4:39 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hell, I've been doing better at emotional wrangling since I saw it. Might need another viewing soon.
posted by palomar at 5:03 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


One thing I thought was interesting was that the adult mother had all female-gendered emotions, and the father had all-male gendered emotions but the eleven year old had mixed.

My one real complaint is that the quick flashes we get of the parents minds draw so hard on gender stereotypes. Riley's mind, as you point out, has male and female gendered emotions along with traditionally male and female coded interests. It felt like they made the story well situated in the context of being an 11 year old girl, without just regurgitating lazy stereotypes, but then reverted to those stereotypes in the parent's minds. I get that there's not the time to develop them as fully (and largely they were just quick jokes), but it wasn't great.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:25 AM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


We all become Bing Bong.

And yet our Brazilian helicopter pilots endure.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:30 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thinking about it some more, what bugged me about the movies is the 20 minutes or so spent explaining the concepts at the beginning. Understandable why, but that felt like padding to me. Also, much is made of sadness coloring memories, but Joy touches everything and doesn't seem to color much. Plus Joy was an introvert's nightmare. Not a bad move at all and there was plenty to like in its attempt to simplify complex subjects. Plus Bing Bong needed more obvious dolphin traits. Something like dolphin noises when he's happy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:42 AM on June 25, 2015


Also, much is made of sadness coloring memories, but Joy touches everything and doesn't seem to color much.

I thought it was pretty clear that that was a new thing; Sadness hadn't started coloring memories until the move. The coloring was a representation of Riley's depression/sadness at the move changing how she thought about the past. Joy doesn't have that power.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:45 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, much is made of sadness coloring memories, but Joy touches everything and doesn't seem to color much.

I haven't seen the movie (yet!) but this strikes me as exactly right. The experience of joy, while real and true and good, is not something that, in my own experience, leaves an indelible mark. Joy (the feeling) is almost entirely in-the-moment, and not concerned with leaving its mark the way that sorrow seems to be.
posted by gauche at 5:59 AM on June 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Funny, I would have said the exact opposite thing. Sadness is transient for me, while joy makes memories last.
posted by bonehead at 7:43 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Brazilian was a RL person.
posted by brujita at 8:19 AM on June 25, 2015


Was he? I had assumed that (the "we gave up" definitely makes it seem that way), but in the credits Riley's teacher had the exact same memory, which I found odd if he were someone Riley's mom actually knew.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:33 AM on June 25, 2015


That's the joke (he gets around).
posted by deathmaven at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can give the creative liberties of Inside Out a pass given that it's competition is a naked-frog-cuttlefish-dinosaur. Damn naked. Fucking naked. As in, didn't Frankenstein learn any fucking thing about dinosaurs in the last 20 years that would have made his job a lot easier by getting his chimera DNA from LIVING MEMBERS OF THE SAME FAMILY naked.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:16 AM on June 25, 2015


Saw it with my wife and two boys, 8 and 10. We all loved it beyond measure, but for different reasons. Eight year old Sebastian, who as MeFi has previously seen, is full of feels, was particularly into it. He reported that it was just like what happens in his brain.
posted by The Bellman at 9:28 AM on June 25, 2015


Also, I would be remiss here if I did not note that Triple-Dent Gum will make you smile. I'm so sorry
posted by The Bellman at 9:30 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw it with my wife, daughter (10) and son (15). We all enjoyed it very much. What I got from it was that sadness is a necessary part of life, at least sometimes...and I thought that the story, particularly the way that Joy learned how sadness is an essential emotion, was well done.

And Lava, the short film before the movie? I thought that was amazing. As I heard someone around here say before...it hit me right in the feels!
posted by KillaSeal at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Something else I noticed was that the adult emotions were more integrated and worked together. Mom's lead appeared to be sadness, and dad's anger was more restrained.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Honestly, Lava seems to solidify the man-woman love story mini-trend that Pixar/Disney shorts like to do (Blue Umbrella, Feast, Paperman are the others).

For me, it's all become a nice tech showcase but pretty rote and forgettable. The shorts that have stuck out were ones that had kinda more offbeat or weird concepts or stories like Get a Horse! (which accompanied Frozen).
posted by FJT at 10:55 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


For any folks on the fence about this, FWIW, I saw the trailer months ago and was not impressed or interested in seeing it. The 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (even given their sketchy review-to-score conversion) and blistering heat nudged me to the multiplex. And I loved it. I want to go back just to take in all of the visual detail. Personal fave: the Abstract Thought sequence.
posted by the sobsister at 11:22 AM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


In my best 'Anger' voice:

"I just don't believe it! Can't a movie just be a MOVIE anymore? Why do some people feel the need to critique a film...in this case, a FAMILY film...as to whether or not it's fantasy setting is ACCURATE? As if Pixar OWED them ACCURACY? Gaaaaaah! If you want accuracy, go watch NOVA! Or buy an Atomic Clock! Don't haul out your desperate need to prove how SMART you are by dragging out this stupid 'how accurate is it' CRAP, when something is supposed to be FUN! Your "Oh, REAL rats couldn't be CHEFS!" mentality sucks all the fun out of what is supposed to be a great time! So just STOP IT!" STOP DISSECTING STUFF LIKE THIS AND MAKING ME FEEL BAD THAT YOUR PARENTS EVER MET! NOBODY CARES, OKAY?"
posted by Quasimike at 1:41 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hey, some people have 'Goofball Island', while others have 'Floating Landmass that Represents Being Serious & Cerebral'.
posted by FJT at 3:39 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fun Fact About Inside Out: I can't fucking wait to see Inside Out.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:52 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ha Quasimike part of my anticipation for seeing this movie Sunday is the idea of seeing Lewis Black do an entire movie without dropping a single F-Bomb. That must have hurt.

Oh and I totally heard your comment in his voice LOL.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:46 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


A lot of the press about the movie talks about the "Basic Emotion Theory" of Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman as though it is some sort of scientific truth, when my cursory searches suggest that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the idea that there are "basic emotions".

Ekman's basic emotion theory was useful in getting emotion research legitimized in psychology at a time when psychologists mostly cared about cold cognition. He showed that six emotions generated facial expressions that crossed cultures; this got psychologists excited and let them get a first good handle on the universal, biological underpinnings of those emotions. It was a very useful step in the sociology of the affective sciences.

But the claim that these are the only "basic" emotions, and that all other emotions are constructed from them, was never something that was really justified by his research. Even if only six emotions are facially expressed in the same way across cultures, that doesn't mean that there are no other non-derivative emotions. I work at an institute for the study of emotion, and most emotions theorists here are way more permissive with the number of emotions that they're willing to admit into their theories. And anyway, Ekman himself started adding other emotions to his list as his research progressed. Contempt was added soon after, and he's now up to fifteen or something like that.
posted by painquale at 4:08 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well I saw the movie with Dad as planned, and we were both absolutely enchanted by it. There is probably another movie to be made about the disconnect when R movie fans find themselves in the World of G.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:38 PM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not science, it's art, HOLY FUCK

That it may be informed by certain scientific concepts is one thing but SWEET MOTHERFUCKING HELL it's an artistic expression of deeply felt problems. It's poetry, not a dissertation, FFS.

I saw it. Probably didn't help that:

1. I haven't seen my own young children in 3 weeks
2. We are moving out-of-state for work reasons

So the movie resonated pretty strong with me. I cried through 50% of it, I think, and held my partners' hands very tightly throughout. It made me feel very vulnerable and scared.

It's a well-made film. Bravo, Pixar. Bravo.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:05 PM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still feel the movie was rather privileged and lovely in a way that is not as messy as it wants to be (the girl at the center of the movie, after all, has two parents who love her & who express it freely and are quite solidly available to her) but it spoke to me

I think it's a very important part of the movie that the girl's sadness was triggered by a stressful event, but one that she potentially could have reacted to mostly with joy if her internal wiring had been acting differently. That would have been harder to depict if she'd had a lot of other external factors that one might expect to cause sadness.
posted by straight at 3:16 PM on June 30, 2015


I also finally saw this and it was indeed great. I wonder how the did the skin/surface texture for the main characters? They had this sort of fuzzy-muppet-texture that was active, sort of some dynamic surface particle effect.

Also, "Lava" was cute but all their shorts are always a showcase from some specific rendering technique, like the the posterization in "Feast", the 2D/3D combo in "Paperman", the complex light sources in "La Luna", etc. But I couldn't quite figure what the new technical element was in "Lava". Clouds?
posted by GuyZero at 3:24 PM on June 30, 2015


Oh and I have to mention that the thing I mentioned upthread about Lewis Black doing an entire movie without dropping an F-bomb was totally lampshaded by Inside Out when Black's Anger character goes "Can we use that new curse word we learned now?" and the other emotions are like "not right now."
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:32 PM on June 30, 2015


One thing I thought was interesting was that the adult mother had all female-gendered emotions, and the father had all-male gendered emotions but the eleven year old had mixed.

Found this item in the IMDB trivia section regarding the genders of the emotions:

When asked about the genders of the emotions, Pete Docter said, "It was intuitive. It felt to me like Anger's very masculine, I don't know why ... Sadness felt a little more feminine and Mindy Kaling as Disgust felt right ... with Mom and Dad, we skewed them all male and all female for a quick read, because you have to understand where we are, which is a little phony but hopefully people don't mind!"
posted by turnips at 10:45 PM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]




No one has mentioned the boxes of facts and opinions getting knocked over on the train of thought. They look so similar! For all the feels, I loved the movie for including this as practically a throw-away moment.
posted by meinvt at 11:54 AM on July 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


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