Pixar’s new movie Inside Out acknowledges the great mix of kids’ emotions as we all should.

I went to go see the new Pixar movie, Inside Out, with my teenagers on opening night. Honestly, I was a little surprised they wanted to go. And I was struck by the message and the depth with which Pixar handled the movie’s themes.

Inside Out tells the story of an 11-year-old girl, Riley, whose family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. The twist is that it tells the story from inside her head, and the main characters are her emotions. What’s so great about the story is that it playfully and respectfully acknowledges the complexity of an 11-year-old’s emotions and gets across the point that seems to get lost so often in discussions around education reform: how we feel matters.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was how well it conveyed the myriad emotions involved in play. Part of the story revolves around Riley’s life as an ice hockey player, and during various scenes it becomes quite clear that the experience actively engages many of her emotions: joy, sadness, anger, and fear. I was really quite blown away by the nuance that Pixar brought to the storyline–-an acknowledgement that kids need space to experience and grow with all their emotions. Being sad is just a part of it, and being angry is a critical part of learning to channel one’s aggression into healthy aggressiveness.

I’m no movie reviewer, but I figure any animated film that leaves you with a sense of bittersweet melancholy is worth considering. Mostly, I came away from Inside Out feeling a lot of gratitude – appreciative that Pixar had chosen to make this movie about the complexity of emotions, moved that Playworks was validated in our efforts promoting play as a tool for kids to really discover their full selves, and lucky that my teenage kids still want to go see an animated movie on a Friday night with me.

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