Movie Review: Pixar’s Inside Out – Neuroscience for the Whole Family!

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

By: Christina Crowe, RP

(Warning: potential spoiler alerts!)

I took my family to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out this evening, wishing and hoping that it would live up to all of the rave reviews I’ve heard since its release.  Sometimes I’m totally swept up in a kids/family movie, sometimes I’m left really cranky as I fume about sexist stereotypes or standardized fairytale endings.  As a therapist, our household is no stranger to talk about feelings, emotions, how to regulate, mindfulness and so on. So much so, that my family is just used to it …. we forget from time to time that other people don’t live with a constant stream of neuroscience talk happening in the background.  I was thrilled to see a jam-packed theatre on a school night in our small town!  Way to go families!

I’m not sure I can even yet appreciate just how innovative and exciting this movie is for kids and adults alike. There is finally a movie that tries to explain to all of us how emotion, memory, cognition and behaviour are all related.  Kids will get it at their level, and adults will appreciate this movie on a whole other level.  There are some pretty big concepts addressed … how we make memories, how they are stored, how they can be changed over time.  The characters that play out in the minds of the family (11 year old Riley and her mom and dad) are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear, and we get an intimate view of how these emotions interact with each other and how they can even change who we are and the memories we have.  We each talked about our favorite parts of the movie, and when I said mine, my husband triumphantly announced he knew that would be what I would say.  I won’t spoil it … but will say that there are a few interactions between Sadness and Joy that I see over and over and over, in myself, in my kids, in my clients, in everyone around me, and I’m SO happy to see them portrayed in a movie so that kids might understand them.  I will say that for the most part, many of the concepts in the movie are bang on.  Being able to acknowledge and make space in one’s mind for our emotions is a huge part of how we can teach our kids emotional regulation.  Too often I see people working incredibly hard at denying some of these basic emotions that we all have as human beings and the results are usually pretty unfortunate. 

Of course, I also loved that the protagonist was a hockey playing girl, who ultimately saves herself, and she isn’t a princess waiting for a prince to save her (see sexist stereotypes or standardized fairytale endings, above).  The movie reminds us that sometimes the answers to our problems often seem far away (Minnesota) and the only path to them can seem rather dramatic. However, those are the options (external and dramatic) when we aren’t in touch with our feelings.  If we do have the courage to tap into what is going on inside, suddenly the options shift, and our whole world can change.  Inside Out provides so many great lessons to talk about as a family, and sheds light on so many opportunities where we can notice our kids and peek into their inner worlds.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did! 

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Picture of ​Christina Crowe, H.BSc. MACP, RP, (S-Cert) OAMHP (she, her)

​Christina Crowe, H.BSc. MACP, RP, (S-Cert) OAMHP (she, her)

Registered Psychotherapist, Validated Clinical Supervisor, ADHD Therapist & Coach Podcast Host The Christina Crowe Podcast Christina is a Canadian Registered Psychotherapist, a member of CADDRA's Advocacy Committee and relentless mental health advocate. Christina believes great mental health information should be available to everyone, loves creating content that makes invisible things VISIBLE and finding new ways to bring healing experiences to as many people as possible.

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