People. I got to go to the MOVIES last weekend! And it was amazing.

JL_approved_insideOutLogo_finAs a mom who works from home, I have very little free time in which I can concentrate on anything indulgent. There are times when the baby is sleeping, maybe three or four solid hours in a given day, during which I can focus on something, read words and let my brain engage fully, really concentrate on a subject, or write something coherent—currently this time is devoted to work. That is, when I don’t get sucked into my Facebook stream on autopilot only to look up after half an hour and think, “What the hell just happened?” The rest of my day is largely spent on errands, household chores, or hanging out on the floor, letting the baby use me as a jungle gym, all of which must occur while at least half of my brain is keeping track of a small, mobile person who is just looking for a chance to hurt himself.

So I don’t get as much time as I used to get to think deeply and write about the all-important pop-culture topics, which I am fully capable of spending SO MUCH TIME pondering. That’s just one of the results of an advanced degree in the liberal arts, I guess.

But this weekend I need to stop and think. Mostly because I got to GO TO THE MOVIES on Saturday. And I gorged myself on popcorn and felt slightly ill, but it was so worth it.

If you currently have, or have ever had, a baby, you know what a luxury this is. I never really thought about it before becoming a parent. But in order to actually go to the movies, you have to arrange for someone to watch the baby. Because babies aren’t movie-theater-friendly. Because babies can’t sit still and engage with the movie. But they can get angry at not being allowed to move (see topic “Air Travel”), and by god can they make inappropriately loud noises (see topic “All Day, Every Day”).

In any case, Robin went away on yet another bachelor party weekend (seriously, people, stop getting married all at once!), and as a favor to me he set up a playdate as a window of free time and a much-needed respite for me. I dropped the boy-beast off with his fairy godmother for a few hours and headed to the movies. BY MYSELF. It was amazing.

I went and saw the new Pixar movie, Inside Out. I’d read about it and was really interested in the premise: five embodiments of emotion (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness) lead the control booth of a little girl’s brain as she deals with the difficulty of moving to a new city with her family. At first I thought, This isn’t a new concept. Several shows and movies have anthropomorphized the workings of the brain and other bodily elements over the years. What’s so new about this?

But Inside Out really is a great movie, not because of the premise, but because of the ways they’ve worked out the world inside the brain. And how they display out the development and maturing process of a person’s emotions.

Okay, so I really don’t have the time to sit and think and compose a thorough analysis of the movie—because that would take me hours, and I have a deadline, and I haven’t worked nearly enough the past few days—but I do want to share what some other people have said about it and just say that I think the movie was beautifully done.

From NPR:

Villains are staples of stories for kids. Making them bigger, meaner, madder, more impossible to defeat — that’s how you build the ideas of fear and then, inevitably, of courage. . . . You learn that you, too, can beat the bad guy. You learn not to lose heart and not to give up. You use something inside yourself to beat something outside yourself.

There is no villain in Pixar’s new film Inside Out. That’s not only because the action takes place inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley. It’s also because even in there, . . . there is no villain. Riley isn’t stalked by any invading monster; there’s no hulking, lumbering beast named Insecurity or Hate or Depression who must later be defeated or vanquished in a climactic battle or persuaded to change its nature. Riley begins with a vibrant spirit humming with varied, vivid life, and her great battle—the battle that must be fought by her Joy and her Sadness but is being fought by Riley always, after all—is simply to master the fact that her assembled life is delicate and complex.

From Jezebel:

This movie is a welcome reminder that the way you’re feeling at any given time is all right, even necessary. Despite Joy’s endless need to make everything okay (the vocal casting of Poehler was the perfect call), when things start to fall apart in Riley’s life (and mind), that’s when Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger all show their worth. Being happy all the time is a nice goal, but it doesn’t always get us where we need to go, whether that’s strengthening relationships or moving forward in our lives.

Go see the movie. And think about the other astounding moments Pixar has given us (the first few minutes of UP or those devastating moments in the Toy Story frnachise, for instance) and think about how beautifully emotionally intelligent some of that company’s movies are for adults and kids alike, and how they help us remember that growing up is really hard and tragic and necessary.

As a mother of a little boy who will one day start to deal with emotions, and as I will have to figure out how to understand and deal with them, I really love the way this movie gets into the emotional workings of a child and the complexity that comes with growing up.

Oh, and I can already see fan theories and interpretations going up on the web. And I LOVE IT! But spoiler warning, in case you click on those links.