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Inside Out: a movie review

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Inside Out comes to US theatres in 3D on June 19, 2015. (Credit: Disney-Pixar via Youtube)

{source}<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #c0c0c0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/yRUAzGQ3nSY?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}Inside Out is the latest Disney Pixar movie from Oscar winning director Pete Doctor, best known for his work with other classics like Up, Monsters Inc., and the Toy Story movies. The film centers on the emotions that help to guide the life of a 12 year old girl named Riley. Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, is the predominant emotion and serves as the leader inside Riley’s head. As a result, Riley is a very happy and relatively care-free girl who greatly enjoys her life in Minnesota. However, things take a turn when her family moves to San Francisco for her father’s work.

In Minnesota, Sadness, voiced by Phyllis Smith from The Office, was a relatively marginalized part of Riley’s subconscious. However, as the family moves, Sadness begins to play a growing role without either her or any of the others really understanding why. Her actions lead Joy to try even harder to maintain control and keep Riley happy. However, those efforts result in calamity when she and Sadness are accidentally sent to another part of Riley’s mind. As a result, Fear, Disgust, and, primarily, Anger are left to try and guide her through the tumultuous experience of adjusting to a new school and a new life while Joy and Sadness try to make the difficult trip back.

Over the course of their journey, Joy gains a greater appreciation for Sadness and the role she needs to play in Riley’s life. Joy learns that for Riley to function, she can’t always be happy and that there will be times where the other emotions need to take on a greater role. Ultimately, it’s only when she steps aside and allows Riley to actually express her sadness without bottling it up that the young girl is able to cope with the move and embrace her new life.

Inside Out offers an entertaining yet powerful reminder of the need for emotional honesty. There may be times where it is necessary to set aside grief or anger in order to properly address the situation at hand, but when bottling up those emotions becomes a pattern it can only end in disaster. Jesus is perhaps our greatest example for understanding the benefits and the correctness of emotionally honest expression.

Joy is manifested throughout his life and ministry but is perhaps best seen in the delight he takes when interacting with children and his disciples. However, we also see the other emotions displayed at various points in his life. He lived a sinless life but shows righteous anger and disgust when throwing the money changers out of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). And he shows fear and sadness in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prays repeatedly for a way to avoid the cross if God’s will could still be accomplished by doing so (Matthew 26:36-46).

Ultimately, Jesus understood that while control was necessary, so was appropriate emotional expression. His life demonstrates a level of balance that can only be achieved when we realize that each of our emotions has its proper, God-given place in our lives. Acting otherwise by attempting to marginalize some aspect of our nature, whether it be sadness, anger, or any of the others, can prevent us from living the kind of life to which God has called us. In that way, it is quite similar to sin even if we may not often see it as such.

So which emotions do you struggle to express? Why is that? Knowing the answers to those questions and acting on that knowledge are the first steps towards greater balance and the ability to live the kind of full life for which God has created you.

So the next time you are tempted to set aside your first emotional impulse, stop and ask why that is. It may be that such action is necessary for the moment but never make it a pattern. Such repression is not healthy and, more importantly, it’s not God’s will for your life. He created you for more than that so live accordingly and you will know the kind of joy and peace that can only come from a well-balanced life.