The second I saw the trailer for Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out” I knew I had to see it. And when offered the opportunity to attend a screening last week, I jumped at the chance. As a life-long Disney fan, I knew I would love it. I knew I would probably cry. But still I was completely caught off guard.
Before I get into why I loved it, I want to share Norrin’s reaction to the film.
Taking Norrin to the movies has been a work in progress. Each time we go, he gets better and better. And last week was the best he’d ever done at the movies. We’ve been talking about “Inside Out” for a while – he had a blast with the activity pages so he knew what to expect. Yeah, he talked a little too loudly in some scenes but I’m so whatever about it now. I asked him to lower his voice and kept watching. It was great to see Norrin so engaged in the film. When he talked, he asked me appropriate questions about the scenes and made observations about the characters. He laughed when he was supposed and his favorite scene was the with the trains. (And if they make that train into a toy, I will have to buy it because it’s all he talks about!)
What’s great about “Inside Out” is all the talk about feelings. If you’re an autism parent, you’ve probably spent a lot of time working on facial recognition and identifying feelings. In our home, we talk about feelings ALL THE TIME. It’s important to me that Norrin understand them and respect them. And he does – he gets it. If he sees me crying or angry, he tries to make me feel better. When he sees me happy – he understands that too. He likes seeing me happy.
While Norrin understands what feelings “look” like, he still doesn’t quite understand them. When Norrin is happy or sad, he can’t express why. When he’s scared and I ask him what he’s scared of, I can see the confusion in his eyes.
I think for kids with autism, seeing this movie will help them understand not only their own feelings but others. The concept of “Inside Out” is absolutely brilliant and I think our kids will really respond to it. Inside Out is a great way to start the conversation about feelings and provide the visual that our kids need.
But what I loved about “Inside Out” is its profound message.
Do you have a friend who always tries to cheer you up whenever you’re feeling sad? One who continuously tells you to “think happy thoughts so you can feel better.” I know I do. And I get it – they’re trying to help. After Norrin’s autism diagnosis, I went through a really hard time and everyone tried to get me to look on the bright side.
There is a scene in “Inside Out” – probably my favorite scene – when that happens. One of the characters, Bing Bong, is sad. Joy, wanting to hurry through Imagination Land, tries to cheer Bing Bong up. But it’s Sadness who stops to listen to what Bing Bong has to say. By listening, Bing Bong feels better and is able to continue. When Joy asks what Sadness did, she says something like, “Sometimes people just need to be heard.”
And cue the tears! As someone who has lived with depression for most of my life, it was so validating to hear Sadness say the words that I have always felt. Sometimes I don’t want to be cheered up, sometimes there is nothing that can be said or done. Sometimes I just need someone to listen – without judgement, without advice, without words of wisdom – in order to move on and feel better.
“Inside Out” sends the message that ALL of our feelings are necessary and that they all matter.
It is also a defense of sorrow, an argument for the necessity of melancholy dressed in the bright colors of entertainment. The youngest viewers will have a blast, while those older than Riley are likely to find themselves in tears. Not of grief, but of gratitude and recognition. Sadness, it turns out, is not Joy’s rival but her partner. Our ability to feel sad is what stirs compassion in others and empathy in ourselves. There is no growth without loss, and no art without longing. [A.O. Scott, New York Times]
(The day after the screening I literally ran to the Disney Store and bought “Inside Out” merchandise – the book, the cell phone cover, a journal. And I need the coffee mugs. I am obsessed with all things Sadness and Disgust!)
“Inside Out” opens today, Friday June 19th. And there’s a Sensory Friendly Screening on Saturday, June 27th at 10am at participating AMC Movie Theaters.