If you love Pixar’s new movie Inside Out–and chances are high that you do–it may be because it’s a striking piece of originality with superb animation, phenomenal music, and a vocal cast that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Or you may just love it because you’ve seen it before in the form of fish in Finding Nemo.
WARNING: If you haven’t seen Inside Out, there are major spoilers ahead.
For the record, I do think of Inside Out as an original story. The film brought in more than $91 million in its opening weekend, breaking the record for an original film. The narrative arc, however, is eerily similar to our fish who are friends, not food. This happens all the time in Hollywood. Mix The Magnificent Seven with a dash of The Three Amigos and you get A Bug’s Life. Sure the setting changes but each movie is influenced by the writers, directors, editors and several others who bring their own legacy story experiences to the film. When all of those legacy experiences combine, it creates a new version of a story we already know and love. It’s not a bad thing.
So let’s forget for a second that Inside Out taking place in the mind while Finding Nemo is in the ocean. And yes the characters have different names and are different species. And we can even toss away the few inconsequential ways in which Finding Nemo and Inside Out are similar. For example, Finding Nemo has a run time of 107 minutes while Inside Out is five minutes shorter. Or even the fact that Finding Nemo has a cameo in Inside Out. These are the ten undeniable facts that prove Inside Out is really Finding Nemo.
1.) The main characters
This was actually the one detail that set me on this train of madness. The main characters are cast in the same roles. Picture Joy as Marlin, Sadness as Dory, Riley as Nemo and Headquarters as the Ocean. Obviously, Joy and Sadness would have to parallel Marlin and Dory. Consider that they are paired together on a journey, one is a know-it-all and the other is useless, and one indirectly helps the other come to an astounding realization about parenting. Who is Joy’s child? Riley! Initially I thought Riley might be the ocean, but Joy’s intense love for her proved Riley is really Nemo. For the first time, Riley is separated from her “guide” and has to figure things out alone with varying degrees of success. Joy was with Riley when she was born and feels an intimate connection to her, like that of a parent. Ultimately, her parent (Joy) learns to relinquish control which leads to a better life for Riley. Before that can happen, headquarters (a.k.a. the ocean) continuously throws obstacles in Joy’s (Marlin’s) way to prevent her from reuniting with Riley (Nemo).
2.) The promise to protect children
Both of our main characters–Joy and Marlin–make a promise to their kids after a traumatic event. For Marlin, it’s Coral’s death. For Joy, it’s Riley’s move to San Francisco. The promise is purely to let the audience know what promise our character will break soon and how they will change through the film. It happens in several movies and isn’t exclusive to Finding Nemo or Inside Out. And yet, it shows up in both of these films in almost the exact same way. After the traumatic event, Joy promises to “make sure tomorrow is a perfect day,” but what she is really promising is protection for her child. Marlin promises he will never let anything happen to Nemo. What Marlin promises to Nemo in physical protection, Joy promises to Riley in emotional protection. Neither is able to keep the promise and both have to change.
Read the remaining eight reasons here.