Emotional Depths of “Inside Out 2”

Pixar’s animated masterpiece, “Inside Out 2,” delves into the complex themes of emotional management, teenage pressures, and expressive feelings with a touch of brilliance. The film’s portrayal of characters and storyline prompts a reflection on the diversity of human emotions and the significance of acknowledging and accepting negative feelings.

With a vibrant cast reflecting a spectrum of emotions and their corresponding psychological depth, “Inside Out 2” beautifully showcases the complexity and universality of human emotions. It underlines the importance of embracing and confronting negative emotions authentically and compassionately.

Set against the backdrop of adolescence, the movie captures the challenges and growth of characters like Riley as they navigate the stresses and nuances of emotional expression during their formative years.

Beyond its narrative depth, “Inside Out 2” not only garnered global success but also resonated deeply with audiences in China, emerging as one of the top-grossing films of 2024. The film’s ability to heal emotions and inspire personal reflection has solidified its place as a modern cinematic gem.

In a world teeming with emotions and complexities, “Inside Out 2” serves as a poignant reminder of the beauty and importance of embracing our emotional spectrum with authenticity and resilience.

Emotions are worth 1 billion dollars

Almost everyone has heard that there are two little people in the human brain, a diligent little person and a lazy little person. When faced with things that you should do but don’t want to do, such as washing dishes, Work out and write papers, and they’ll fight. In 2015, Pixar brought “Inside Out,” an animated feature film based on brain science and full of wild imagination that showed us that there are not just two little people in the human mind, but There is a small team of emotions, including joy, sorrow, anger, fear and disgust.

This role setting corresponds to the “six basic human emotions” discovered by psychologist Paul Ekman in the 1970s, namely happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise. He believed that these emotions are present in all human beings. are ubiquitous in culture. The surprise is often very short-lived and is a physiological shock reaction after an unexpected event, which can also explain why “Inside Out” did not recruit it.

The protagonist of the film is an 11-year-old girl named Riley. She was born in Minnesota, USA. She has blond hair, blue eyes and white skin. She has parents who love her unconditionally and respect her. In her long-term memory area, most of what is stored represents… A happy yellow glass ball, there were very few frights and accidents in her life. No one would jump out from time to time and say to her, “If you don’t obey me, I won’t want you anymore.” Surprises that were already fleeting were hard to come by in her childhood. Find opportunities to play.

After 9 years, “Inside Out 2” returns. Riley has grown to 13 years old. The arrival of puberty is accompanied by the expansion of the brain console and the addition of another emotional team, headed by Jiaojiao (Anxiety). Also includes Envy (Envy), Embarrassment (Embarrassment) and Ennui (Ennui). Their strong arrival has shaken Lele’s C position on the console. As the lines in the film say, maybe when people grow up, they just won’t have so much happiness.

In the context of promoting positive energy, among the nine emotions in Riley’s brain, except happiness, the remaining eight are easily labeled as “negative”. But such a movie full of “negative energy” has become a phenomenal movie this year. So far, the film’s global box office has reached US$800 million, easily succeeding “Dune 2” as the highest-grossing movie this year. Judging from the current box office trends, “Inside Out 2” is likely to become the first movie to break into the $1 billion box office club this year.

Domestically, judging from the Douban score, the reputation of “Inside Out 2” is slightly lower than that of the first film, but this does not affect its expected box office to continue to rise. With summer vacation approaching, the number of teenage audiences and family viewing groups should increase. . And I also discovered an interesting thing in the cinema. When watching a cartoon about the pressure and various emotions of adolescence, the kids who were about the same age as Riley were basically all in the same place. We watched the movie calmly and calmly. Those sniffling in the dark theater were all adults like us.

Some people call “Inside Out 2” “a 100-minute psychological therapy.” The reason why this movie and its predecessors can give people a sense of healing is to look directly at those “negatives” that we avoid. “mood. Rather than denying and hiding their existence, acknowledging and accepting them may be a more mature way of coping.

Just like at the end of the first part, Riley has a core memory ball that is dyed with happiness and sadness at the same time. That is a sign of the end of childhood. She will never have so much pure happiness in the future. It is also the beginning of growth. She will experience many mixed moments in her future life. Human emotions cannot be added or subtracted simply and crudely. Growing up means accepting more complex processes, including a more complex self and more complex emotions.

Accepting complexity is easy to say, but not easy to do and show. “Inside Out 2” uses the simplest story to tell the most understandable truths, but it can be attractive and touching, and it can moisturize and provide people with the greatest emotional value silently. This is not only this film, but also the most understandable truth. It can also be said that this is the great thing about most Hollywood movies that can achieve commercial success around the world.

Compared with its predecessor, “Inside Out 2” feels a bit lazy. Because it almost uses the story skeleton of the first part, but adds new “flesh and blood”.

In the first part, Riley came to San Francisco from Minnesota. She experienced moving and changing schools. Adapting to a new home, a new school and a new city brought her unprecedented pressure and made her decide to run away from home. . Corresponding to her running away, Lele and Sadness in her head unexpectedly left the console, and fear, anger and disgust took over her brain. And Riley finally embarks on her return home, which is also the process of happiness and sadness returning to the console with the core memory ball.

In the sequel, Riley enters adolescence. She is about to enter high school and has to separate from her junior high school friends. The pressure brought by integrating into the new environment and being selected for the high school hockey team makes the new character Jiaojiao take control of her console. The five elder emotions, mainly Lele, were thrown to the back of the head, and their trek back to the console with their old sense of self corresponded to Riley’s recovery from anxiety and panic attacks.

There is no need to reiterate the importance of happiness, but sometimes the desperate emphasis on happiness may inadvertently evolve into the suppression of other emotions, and ultimately may turn into a dictatorial “only allow happiness to exist.” If the first “Inside Out” gently told us that it is okay to be sad and cry, then the sequel accurately depicts the mental state of modern people when they are swept away by anxiety, thereby helping people to develop Self-compassion is extremely valuable.

As soon as Jiaojiao appears, the film distinguishes between him and Paipei. The latter deals with visible dangers, while Jiaojiao is responsible for invisible dangers, those bad situations that may happen in the future. In fact, moderate anxiety is not a bad thing. People’s practical efforts to relieve anxiety and make the voice of “I’m not good enough” disappear in their heads can indeed make people make progress or solve some problems. Just like to avoid the scene of losing to the ice hockey team, one of the plans Jiao Jiao made for Riley was to let her come to the ice rink earlier than everyone else in the training camp, and then start extra practice, hitting the ball off target. Once out of the goal, there is an extra kilometer of return running. If Jiaojiao stays at this level, it’s actually nothing.

The problem is that Jiaojiao is an emotion that is too involved in itself. To be prepared, it would carry six suitcases to the console, and it was this kindness in wanting to prevent all bad things from happening that hurt Riley. The fantasy paradise in Riley’s brain was originally used to dream about Prince Charming and her future career, but after Jiaojiao took over, her brain cells were working overtime to dream about “100 bad situations that might happen in the future.” These anxieties about anticipating the future not only kept Riley awake at night, but also caused her to behave inappropriately by peeking into her coach’s notebook.

When Riley participated in the game that determined whether she could be selected for the high school ice hockey team, Jiaojiao drank himself six bottles of energy drinks, thinking that the harder he worked, the closer Riley would be to success. It turned on the extreme operation on the console, and the whole body was burnt out of the afterimage, directly setting off an orange storm, but in the end, it killed Riley’s brain. Unable to make good judgment calls, Riley stole the ball from her teammates, was ejected for injuring her junior high school friend, and had a panic attack in the dugout.

Seeing everything out of control, Jiao Jiao couldn’t move, only a line of guilty tears leaked out of his big frightened eyes. This scene is even more poignant than in the first film, when Riley’s imaginary best friend Popsicle gradually disappeared into the gray oblivion zone in the first film, because we can see ourselves in Jiaojiao.

Growing up in an environment that emphasizes “winning at the starting line”, we have been good at self-criticism since childhood. Before we have developed self-awareness, we are usually told that “you are not good enough”. We don’t have to wait until adolescence. Our anxiety may have been welded to the C position of the brain console. With the intensification of involution in recent years, anxiety has become a common social emotion. A work that can truthfully present this emotion has given people who are troubled by it a sense of relief at being “seen” and “understood”. At the same time, when we shed tears for Jiao Jiao, in fact, I also realized a rare kind of love for myself.

Adolescence and Nostalgic Grandma

In the film, Riley’s brain is on fire with the onset of puberty. Facing the new situation, each of the elders felt a little uncomfortable. Riley was a little angry because she was woken up by her mother in the morning. Angry just pressed a button on the console, triggering a super fight between mother and daughter. Anticipated quarrel.

With the development of brain imaging technology, there is now a more scientific understanding of adolescent rebellion: the limbic system in the brain, which is responsible for driving emotions, undergoes major changes starting from the age of 10 to 12 years old, and the prefrontal lobe, which is responsible for decision-making, planning and self-control. The cortex is at the last item on the list of brain development and is not completed until more than 20 years of age. The mismatch in the development speed of the two makes Rileys “flammable and explosive”.

The emotion least related to adolescence is probably nostalgia. In the movie, nostalgia is personified as a grizzled old woman who tries to join the group chat twice, only to be sent back inside by other emotions. Outside of the movie, my nostalgic grandma accompanied me through the entire movie, and my eyes got hot because I recalled the memories of my youth. The movie-watching experience is different from that of kid brothers and sisters, and it seems to confirm Hemingway’s sentence that people cannot have youth and the feeling of youth at the same time.

As East Asian children, our adolescence often faces heavier things than failing to be selected for the high school hockey team. It may be strict parents, it may be the pressure to enter higher education under exam-oriented education, it may be the suppression of individuality by collectivism, or it may be everything above. If Riley’s adolescent problems were in easy mode, then what many of us have experienced is probably in hard mode. However, the help we could get at that time was extremely limited. Even a more scientific understanding of the adolescent brain has only been developed in the past ten years. Researched.

This has also led to a situation where, in terms of actual age, many of us can already start the midlife crisis, but many times we feel that the problems that were not solved in adolescence still seem to be affecting us, such as self-awareness. The construction of relationships with new and old friends, and the complex emotions of envy, burnout, and embarrassment that come with Jiao Jiao. The valuable thing about “Inside Out 2” is that it not only soothed many people’s current anxiety, but also gave us who were once helpless a hug over time, and the way it took it was still to present it truthfully.

Riley’s tone when she said something that she didn’t mean to do in order to fit in with the new group, her twitching when she wanted to please but was worried that doing so would cause embarrassment, and her uncoordinated hands and feet when walking together with her high school hockey team members, and her unprovoked Amplified emotions. A classic line from the American TV series “A Life of Anger” is that Western psychological counseling cannot cure Eastern brains, but the common emotional experience between humans can still touch people’s hearts through good works, arouse resonance, and then achieve shallow healing.

There is a detail in the film that the C position of Riley’s mother’s brain console is sadness, while the C position of her father is anger. Perhaps this is the truth of adult life, and it is already a kind of happiness to get some shallow healing.

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