Movie Review: Disney Meets Brain Biochemistry

Someone gave my husband Cinemark tickets for Christmas last year, so we finally took advantage of them. We had a rare movie date night, in a real theater, that charges first-run prices, last weekend. Yay! Usually our movie nights consist of watching a borrowed DVD from the library or a YouTube video. So yay, that we found a movie in the theater that we wanted to watch! We saw Inside Out, one of Disney’s latest Pixar features. I was a little skeptical that I would like it, just because I don’t automatically run to the theater for every animated movie. These movies are not always worth my watching, or worth letting my kids watch. (Much to my 10 year old son’s utter frustration. I am not popular with him because of my movie snobbery.) Most movies, animated or not, are brain candy, or worse, brain poison.

My 21-year-old son is home on a semester break from college and he took a young woman to see it on a date last week and he recommended it, so I took a chance at it. The verdict…we loved it! I give it 5 out of 5 stars! I didn’t notice any potty humor, bad words, or any other offensive material. It promotes family love and being kind with honest communication. It also totally teaches people at an elementary level how the brain works with emotions and that we all have voices inside our heads.

It totally resonated with me because of what I have learned from the Eternal Warriors/Mothers Who Know curriculum created by Maurice Harker and Aneladee Milne. If any of my EW/MWK grads are reading this, you will easily recognize principles that you learned in the class.


In case you don’t want to think about it, here’s my analysis of the movie in terms of EW/MWK principles. If you want to figure it out yourself then stop reading and go see the movie! If you don’t mind the spoiler, go ahead and read the rest of this.

The movie is about an 11-year-old girl who deals with the trauma of moving from Minnesota to California. So for the story, you see what’s happening on the outside of her, as well as what is happening inside her head. We see her five primary emotions of Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and Sadness. Each of these emotions was an actual character with a different color and shape. The movie shows the characters talking to each other, how they get along, and how they control the little girl’s brain. As my brilliant 21 year old son pointed out, first Disney came out with a movie about what would happen if toys had feelings. Then they had a movie about what if cars had feelings. Then bugs, then airplanes, then robots, and who knows what else because I haven’t seen them all. Now Disney has a movie about what if your feelings had feelings. I think this probably the best Pixar movie yet, at least of the ones I have seen.

It was so hilarious. Dh and I laughed out loud many times I noticed that, at the beginning, Joy did not want to acknowledge Sadness much, or let Sadness have a say in what happened in the girl’s brain. The little girl hit a crisis when she made a decision that took her out of her frontal lobe and down the chemical scale. That’s the part when Joy and Sadness are lost in the depths of her brain and not at the control console. Anger, Disgust, and Fear are at the console of her brain and creating havoc, as the girl’s reasoning power, represented by the Train of Thought, crashes, and her values such as honesty and friendship crumble.This was a perfect illustration of what I have read that some therapists call the “amygdala hijacking,” a term coined by Daniel Goleman. This is what is going on when we have the Forget-it Moment, Level 5 on Maurice’s Chemical Scale.

Before the girl could completely carry out Level 5 though, some warrior chemistry kicked in with Anger defending himself from Disgust’s insults. It was so funny. Disgust then used the power of Anger to let Joy and Sadness come to the control of the brain to avert complete disaster. Through the power of Joy and Sadness working together, the movie ends happily, with the little girl getting back to peace and happiness with her family, Level 0. I saw in the story how important it is for emotions to work together as a team as well as a family to work together and be honest with each other about emotions, especially the negative ones, Sadness, Fear, and Anger.

So go see it! It makes a super fun and educational family movie or date night. We will be taking the whole family to see it when it comes to the dollar theater, and I definitely want to get it when it comes out on DVD (hopefully it will come out by Christmas!), just to see the bonus features. It will give your family a fun frame of reference to talk about “the little voices in your head”, aka emotions, in addition to the language you learn from the Mothers Who Know/Eternal Warriors class.

If any of you have seen it, what did you think?

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