With each release from Disney-Pixar, there’s a certain formula that fans have come to expect: a heartwarming story for all ages that sends children into a wild space of imagination and causes their parents to end up in tears during the climactic moments of the film. Inside Out is no exception to this formula, but what makes it truly stand out is the honest, no-nonsense look at the development of a child’s mind in a way that personifies every bit of their emotions.
Through the storytelling of Inside Out, adults are given a look at developing emotions and feelings that we may have forgotten, and kids are provided with representatives of their psyche to make these emotions easier to deal with. But how did a story about the complicated emotions of an 11-year-old girl develop in the hands of middle-aged men?
The answer is simple: it didn’t.
Producer Jonas Rivera, who called the task of building a world inside of a pre-teen’s head “daunting”, told Moviepilot about the involvement of his crew for the sake of authenticity:
We wanted to do it … in an authentic and truthful way. We’re making a movie that’s about our daughters, really, so we wanted to honor that. One of the things we did was we relied on all the smart women on our crew, our production manager, our DP, our writers, a bunch of our story artists, our directing animator. We’d get them in a room and get out, so it wasn’t a bunch of 43 year old dudes trying to craft what this was all about. We wanted them to come to us with - this is how it felt, this is what we did - so we tried to guarantee that it was authentic on that level.
The involvement of female crew members brought forth a true an honest portrayal that brings back memories of one’s first big change in life. In fact, when director Pete Docter first pitched the script to Mindy Kaling, who portrays “Disgust,” the authenticity was so intense that the actress broke into tears.
Docter told NPR:
I pitched her this story and as I turned around, because I was pitching kind of some visuals on the computer, and she's crying and I thought, "Oh no, did she get like a bad text or something?" She really responded emotionally and she said, "Sorry, I just think it's really beautiful that you guys are making a story that tells kids that it's difficult to grow up and it's OK to be sad about it." We were like, "Quick! Write that down." Because that was really what we were trying to say.
This, of course, is why Inside Out hits a golden nugget in what would otherwise be a standard format for kids entertainment. While the idea of enlightening any children may not be extremely realistic, putting faces to their emotions could help when it comes to dealing with hard changes in life; the first move to a new place, making friends, or even anticipating a stressful event can be a lot for young kids.
“You know, when you have kids, you feel like you wish you could freeze time, make time stand still,” said Rivera. “That’s obviously not the right thing to do. So just the fact that [this film] made me think of all these things, it really lit me up.”
The honesty, emotional investment, and mass collaborative effort of the creative team are on display throughout the course of the film, reflecting real-life events that so many of us can relate to. Inside Out doesn’t just provide a great source of entertainment - it’s also a comforting, honest story about growing up and accepting the changing, developing environment inside of one’s mind as these events play out.