Why you should take your kids to see Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out

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Sometimes I forget how hard it is to be a kid. Navigating childhood is a mine field filled with mean kids, peer pressure, tough schoolwork, and embarrassing moments. And, all the while you are figuring out who you are and how you fit into your family, your school, your teams, and with your friends. Now that my kids are getting older, I find myself looking at them a lot and wondering what is going on inside their heads.

Is that a tired look, or is that sadness? Is that pure joy, or are they holding back for some reason? Are their friends including them or are they feeling left out? Try as I might to find out what’s going on, most of the time when I ask how things are going or about how they feel about specific people and situations I get the same response.

“Good,” they say. Good? What does “good” mean, anyway?

Disney•Pixar’s original new film “Inside Out” is about venturing inside the mind to find out what is really going on, you know, in a cartoon and comedic sort of way.

Not to give away too much of the movie, as I think this is one all young kids {and their parents} need to see, I will give a short synopsis. Basically, the film shows you all about “Headquarters”, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind. Inside, five Emotions are hard at work: Joy {voice of Amy Poehler}, Fear {voice of Bill Hader}, Anger {voice of Lewis Black}, Disgust {voice of Mindy Kaling} and Sadness {voice of Phyllis Smith}, each with their own role in Riley’s internal dialogue. InsideOut556fa2e16c404When Riley's family relocates to San Francisco, the Emotions are working overtime during the transition to help Riley cope with leaving her friends behind and moving to a new home and a new school. With a journey that takes them through her Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions, we get to see how even small moments can become Core Memories that help shape us as people. With some truly hilarious exchanges as the Emotions see memories purged and others that continue to resurface without warning, there’s a lot of comedy sprinkled into the story that kept us laughing throughout the movie.

But, it was really the more serious parts of the film that made it a great movie to watch as a parent with small kids. It was hard not to see my own kids in Riley and her Emotions, and I came away with a deeper understanding of what just might be going on in their heads.

Seeing how Joy tries to take the controls and make the best of every situation in the movie made me realize how much Joy is in my daughter. She’s the child who can find something positive in everything and she helps others do the same, which is a trait I hope she always possesses. Any time my daughter encounters a negative experience, she always counters it with a really big positive, much like Riley does in the film. Inside Out pictureThis is a picture she drew the night we got home from the theater, which just so happened to be her 7th birthday. Maybe it was the big birthday, or maybe it was something else entirely, but I will admit I got emotional watching Riley try her hardest to make the best of some pretty awful circumstances and I could see so much of my daughter in her. I hope the Joy inside her is always so powerful and that it will guide her through the upcoming tween and teen years. InsideOut55830c82ac67aMy son is a bit different, and his Fear inside is a little bit louder. Not to say he doesn’t have Joy, because he is one of the happiest and goofiest kids I know, he is just much more cautious than a typical 4 year old boy. He chooses his words carefully, he thinks about structures, roles, and how things work more than most people do, and that makes him a bit of a worrier in new situations… and much more sensitive.

For him, I worry that being so sensitive and resistant to change will bring about Sadness that happy-go-lucky kids avoid. My wish for him is that his Joy only grows louder and more commanding as he grows and sees how truly loved he is. I love that his Fear has made him cautious and analytical when he needs to be, but I hope that his Fear continues to let Joy dominate the controls more and more. He could stand to take some risks and open up to new people and new situations, and I hope that pre-K is just the catalyst he needs. InsideOut550076a8d5456Besides Inside Out being thoroughly enjoyable, I love that there are so many learning opportunities infused into the story that I can share with my kids. Using the movie to help them understand feelings is much easier than trying to explain it myself, and having the visuals to go along with it was definitely a plus.

After seeing the new movie and recognizing the traits of the Emotions as they appear in my own children, I feel better equipped to help them navigate the mine field they are walking into as they venture out into the world of preschool and elementary school. Seeing the film together was a great start, but I can’t wait to see the movie again and discuss it in more detail.

Now that it’s been a few days since we saw the film, I’m finding even more ways we can learn with Inside Out. We picked up some magnets and a notebook at the Disney Store last weekend and we use it to help display our moods. Similar to how we use emoticons in texts and on social media, we use the magnets on our magnetic calendar to show upcoming things we’re excited/fearful/sad/disgusted/angry about. That, paired with the super cool journal that you can write down your feelings under the appropriate Emotion and even change the cover depending upon your mood, has made it easier than ever to talk about feelings and how all your Emotions work together to keep us safe, happy, and thriving.

Inside Out is directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter {"Monsters, Inc.", "Up"}, produced by Jonas Rivera, p.g.a. {"Up"} and featuring an original score by Michael Giacchino {"The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," "Up"} opens in theaters TODAY, June 19, 2015.

Want to find out more? Be sure to like INSIDE OUT on Facebook, follow INSIDE OUT on Twitter, and follow INSIDE OUT on Instagram. You can visit the official INSIDE OUT website

Leanne SignatureA big thank you to Disney for inviting us to preview the movie in Seattle. No compensation was received in exchange for this review.

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