“[It’s about] growing up, and about inner conflict, and about dealing with yourself, and all that stuff.” — Littlest Sister on Inside Out
Littlest Sister and I had another adventure in the theater recently. Since our interview/review format worked so well for the faith-based movie Beyond the Mask, I decided to use her precociously articulate charm for my own ends once again and get her take on Pixar’s latest smash hit, Inside Out. The simple premise is that a little girl’s emotions are personified, and we get to go on a journey with them inside her own mind, as she deals with a tough family move and the pressures of growing up.
As before, the format for this interview was record, conversate, transcribe and publish. No splicing and dicing! We realize we’re about a month late to this party, so as a result, there will be a few spoilers (albeit understated spoilers, considering the unique nature of the story). If you’ve already seen the film or don’t mind having it mildly spoiled for you, we hope you enjoy our joint insights on it! It certainly had both of us wishing we had brought tissues.
Me: All right, so here’s the first question: How does this movie compare with other Pixar films?
Littlest Sister: Well, I think it’s better than some other Pixar films, ‘cuz it’s just… like, most Pixar films are adventurous, like The Incredibles and Toy Story, and those are great, but this is more of a mature, more…
Yeah… and I mean, I like light-hearted Pixar films, that’s great, but this is more of a thing to go “Hmmmm” about. And in a way, I liked it better than other Pixar movies, because I just thought it was more meaningful.
Well, it was just more about growing up, and about inner conflict, and about dealing with yourself, and all that stuff. And that’s something unique that I haven’t seen in other Pixar movies, and it’s really a good idea to think about those things instead of good guys, bad guys, basically.
So, yes, you’ve touched on something interesting and unique about this movie, which is that there are no villains in the story. So this kind of sets it apart, as you were saying, so would you say this is a good difference?
Yeah, I think it’s better that we should get less of a black and white view and more of a, “Well, there’s more to it.” There’s more to it than just good guys and bad guys.
And not only that, but I noticed the lack of major conflict, really, in the story, and the lack of major things happening. You know what I mean?
Yeah, like “Oh no, the bad guy is coming, we are all going to die!” I mean, that gets a little old after several movies of that.
And also the fact that if you think about it, nothing really more dramatic happens than a little girl and her family move from one state to another.
And to show you how things that don’t seem all that remarkable can really change someone’s life radically.
It sets her up to growing up. I mean, it really is a major turnaround for her. It’s not just, “Oh yeah, I’m moving to San Francisco from Minnesota.”
Yeah, just simple questions like, “Where am I going to find new friends? Will I like this school? Will I be lonely?” Questions like this.
Yeah, or “How will this affect my relationship with my parents?”
Exactly! So, Riley is about exactly your age…
She is. Actually, exactly my age.
Did you identify at all with her and her emotions?
YES, as a matter of fact, I did! And at the end I was like, “Yeeeees, puberty. Yes, about that…”
I think we’ll leave that right there!
Yeah I know, but I’m just saying that emotionally-wise, I understand her. I mean the mixed emotions. Now I’m not saying I’ve ever moved, or stolen my mom’s credit card and run away from home. But I have noticed recently that emotions have become more complicated, rather than just Anger, Disgust, Joy, Sadness, Fear. I mean it’s not just one or the other, it’s more of a… I mean, mixed emotions. You think of that phrase, and you think of how often it’s used, but it has…
It’s a thing.
Now, on that note, who was your favorite emotional character?
Well, I really liked Joy, ‘cuz I like upbeat, cheerful characters. But I also understand that she wasn’t the most important. I mean, in the end, actually it was Sadness who made the most effect and was the most important.
Who do you think is the reigning emotion in the world of your mind?
Probably Joy most of the time. But Joy and Anger kinda compete.
Uh-oh! Hmmmm. Okay, let’s see… So, as you know, we both started crying at a certain point! What was it about the story that made us cry at these particular moments? Why did it touch you?
It’s kinda hard to say. The fact that… like, the faded memories, the… you know, when other people start crying in the movie, it’s easy to cry with them. Like Joy starts to cry at one point, so that was basically when I started to cry. ‘Cuz when a character you care about is upset, it’s almost like you live in their world by this time, you’ve been watching the movie for, oh, an hour or so, and then you just feel like you should share their grief, in a way.
So what’s so touching about that scene where Joy starts to cry?
Well, first of all, the sad memory she finds, and second of all the faded, old memories, forgotten memories that she finds. That’s just so sad.
Why are faded memories sad?
Well… because they’re happy memories, like you know, her as a little girl coloring, or acting silly. It’s just like, *sniffles*, they’re lost, you know?
Yeah, and eventually, they literally start disappearing, right?
Yeah, ‘cuz I mean, I’ll bet there are many memories about everyone’s childhood that they don’t remember, but it would be fun to remember.
Exactly, but at the same time, those memories fading away is, as you said before, a part of growing up.
‘Cuz, I mean, you don’t exactly have room for all those toddler memories in with what’s… I mean, you need room for more important things. I mean, it’s not that they’re not important, it’s just that they’re…
They’re in the past.
It’s sad for you to lose them.
Yeah, and yet there still remains this sense that something has been irrevocably lost.
And then, of course the scene at the end.
Right, right. Don’t make me cry again!
So let’s talk about that. Okay, at the beginning of the movie, Joy tries to run everything. What does it mean when Joy finally surrenders Riley’s deepest memories to Sadness, so they can work together?
Well, I guess it means that it shouldn’t just be “Let’s forget about Sadness,” because you know, Riley came home because of Sadness, so that was obviously a very important thing to happen. So I guess she’s just realizing, “I can’t just put Sadness in a circle.” “Let’s make sure all the Sadness stays inside of it!” You know, she can’t just always be pushing her off into a corner where she can’t do anything. She’s actually a very, very, very important part. I mean, the other emotions can’t function properly, and bad things would happen if Sadness wasn’t there.
Like what? Besides Riley running away from home, of course.
Well, like… well first of all, suppose Riley ran away from home, and then she tried to just…I mean, she would just become bitter, she would just become like, “I don’t really care that I’m running away from Mom and Dad.” Or, “I don’t care that I’m hurting people’s feelings.” She wouldn’t have any sense of other people’s feelings. ‘Cuz in a way it’s sadness that helps us realize when we’re hurting someone else. So, you just can’ t live without it! It’s a sad reality.
As it were!
Yeah, it’s very important.
That’s very profound.
Even though we might want to live without it, it’s not possible. Well, it is possible, but we would be heading ourselves towards a very bitter, cynical life, pretty much.
In a way, you could say we’re happier with sadness.
Yeah! I mean, in a way we are.
Isn’t that a funny way to think about it?
Yeah, it’s weird.
That’s deep. All right, here’s a fun question: Do you have a favorite core memory of your own?
Well, it’s weird. With me about core memories, mine aren’t exactly like Riley’s, I mean it’s not like it powers up a personality island or anything like that. It’s basically just little things, like “Oh, I remember when I met Kaitlyn my best friend, or…”
Saying goodbye to Kaitlyn.
Yeah… Uh, don’t make me cry! Yeah, or I remember like being little and family memories and all that, so yeah, I guess I do have some core memories. But I don’t really have a favorite. They’re all in the same barrel, pretty much.
Are they mostly happy?
Yeah, mostly. Except for the one that you so HELPFULLY brought up just now.
Awwww! Okay, and finally, if there’s anything you could improve about the movie, what would it be?
Well, I think there’s just one and only [sic] plot hole, and it’s the only one, so that’s really good. It’s when Riley steals her mom’s credit card. It would be better if she… I mean, if she’s gonna steal anything, which isn’t right of course, but if she just pilfered some cash or something like that. ‘Cuz I mean, it’s not like she can exactly just stroll up and say, “Oh, I have a credit card! Oh, uh, I’m 11 years old. Uh, hehe, never mind, I just would like to buy a bus ticket, thank you very much!”
Hmmm, that’s a good point. Anything else?
Hmmmm, well, let’s see. I think people would have more angry moments than Riley does. I mean, I really don’t think Anger would be sitting on his little couch reading the Mind Reader. He just doesn’t show up that much.
Hmmmm, maybe that’s a good point. Okay, so in conclusion, to whom would you recommend the movie? To younger audiences, or older audiences, or both?
Well, I think that it appeals more to kids almost exactly my age. ‘Cuz if you’re, like, seven you think, “Oh, I don’t really understand that. It’s kinda sad.” But I guess what I’m saying is that kids my age can relate a little more, ‘cuz we are growing up, we are experiencing some of these more…
Yeah, or mixed emotions. And for adults, I guess it would just be like yeah, you could watch it and enjoy, but I guess you just wouldn’t get it as much. Or maybe you would get it if you were remembering about your own 11, 12, 13-year-old past.
I know I’ve seen reviews from adults who enjoyed it very much.
Because they understood the deeper themes. So in that sense…
It’s almost better for an older audience.
Right. And it might be better for people who are above your age range than people who are below it.
Or at my age range. I mean, I understood it more… I mean it’s not like it’s… it’s certainly not, like, bad for younger kids, but it’s just that I don’t think they would get it, mostly.
Well, they would probably laugh at it, because there is a lot of comedy in the movie.
Right, yeah, but I mean if you’re at this age, you’re like, “Well… yeah, I kinda understand that” more than just “Oh, it’s sad, rats.”
Yeah, I think it’s one of those good movies that will take on more meaning as you get older.
Yeah, or if you watch them at the right age, then you’ll always understand it.
Yeah, but I mean, like I graduated college, and I was crying my eyes out at this movie. So clearly it hits more than just people Riley’s own age.
Yeah, it’s Riley’s own age or above, basically, where you could have the emotional range.
Yeah. All right, well, thank you very much for doing this interview with me. I had a great time in the theater with you. We should definitely continue to make a practice of doing these.
Yeah, okay! Have a good night.
You too. Thank you very much.