Inside Out is Pixar's latest big screen adventure, featuring the little voices inside the head of Riley, an 11 year old girl who is uprooted from her home and friends in Minnesota to move with her family to San Francisco.
There's Fear (purple) who keeps Riley safe by obsessing over all the possible dangers and outcomes, Disgust (green) who keeps Riley from being poisoned or socially ostracized, Sadness (blue) who shows when Riley needs help, Joy (yellow) who helps her to enjoy things in life and Anger (red) whose purpose isn't explicitly stated, but helps Riley to identify when things are wrong.
The movie itself is enjoyable and full of great laughs, but I'm much more excited about the messages and teaching opportunities. Emotional awareness is one of those challenges for kids with autism. We've been working with Nathan on getting him to understand that his reactions come from him, not from the people outside him (he made me angry, no, you're angry because you lost your toy and he irritated you).
One of the core messages in the movie is that all the emotions are valuable. Although we start out with a focus on Joy, who wants to be the only one in the driver's seat, we learn that Sadness has her place, along with everyone else. It even has a wonderful depiction of depression as an absence of feeling, rather than just feeling sad.
Inside Out manages to tread the fine line between showing that the emotions are valuable and useful but that acting out on them without thinking can get you into trouble. I'm sure there will be the usual merchandizing options, which should provide some excellent tools for families with autism, or anyone struggling with emotional awareness.