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There are many, many things to appreciate about director Pete Docter’s new future classic Inside Out, but one reasonable concern about the movie is whether or not it will be too complex for children to understand. After all, the film makes a point of bringing to life psychological and abstract ideas that all take place within our own minds. That being said, this was an issue that the folks at Pixar were very much aware of while making the feature, and took steps to ensure that it will be comprehensible and enjoyable to audiences of all ages.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a one-on-one interview with Pete Docter to talk about his latest film, and it was when I asked about the potential problem of the movie being too confusing that the filmmaker described the steps that were taken to ensure that it wasn’t. Acknowledging that the concern was something that they thought about from the beginning, Docter told me,
The complexity was an issue, and so we had a screening, maybe a year and a half ago, where we invited our own kids and neighbor kids just to kind of take the temperature and whether people were getting it… The nice thing was that kids really got it. We had a couple five year olds able to describe the movie back to us with all the personality islands, all the characters and what it all meant. They almost got it better than the adults did!
The director also added that he and the writers, producers and animators had spent three years simplifying and distilling Inside Out into being something that was easily accessible for all – so almost all of the "heavy lifting" was finished before the screening even happened.
Speaking to the larger idea of the movie being understood by younger members of the audience, Docter also explained that there is a level of Inside Out that will actually be comprehended better by kids than adults, simply because they’re closer to the mentality than we are. As the director put it,
I never really doubted that the kids would understand it. The sort of emotion and the sort of subject matter we’re dealing with, it’s kind of universal. In fact, on one level, I think kids are probably closer to it than adults, because we spent our whole lives growing up saying, ‘Well it’s not okay to fall on the floor and have a fit when you can’t have ice cream.’ We know as adults we’re kind of separating, you know, where kids just let it all come out.
Not only does Inside Out present very complex and interesting ideas in fun and accessible ways, but the movie is also a deeply emotional and entertaining ride that everyone can enjoy. I highly recommend you checking it out when it arrives in theaters this Friday.