That is exactly what “Inside Out” earnestly tells us, seen through the mind of 11-year-old Riley as her parents move the family from Minnesota to California; but hearing it out loud sent me over the edge. While the film — which took in a ridiculous $91 million at the box office this weekend — centers on that theme, there were two scenes in particular that really brought the waterworks. Which one made you cry the most?
* Bing Bong
Oh, the tragedy of Bing Bong. Voiced by Richard Kind, Bing Bong is a purple elephant/cotton candy creature who was Riley’s imaginary friend when she was little, and he obviously has the power to fly to space, which they frequently did in a wagon. Throughout the whole movie, Bing Bong is worried that Riley doesn’t need him anymore since she’s growing up.
It all culminates in devastation. He and Joy (Amy Poehler) are stuck in a pit, desperately needing to get back to headquarters so Joy can take over Riley’s mind and make her feel happy again. So Bing Bong and Joy hop in the aforementioned wagon as Bing Bong tries to use his magical flying powers to get them out of a pit.
They can’t quite make it — and then Bing Bong gets a sad, knowing look on his face. He urges Joy to try again, and as the wagon takes a flying leap, Bing Bong barrel rolls out of the wagon, and it’s light enough that Joy is able to make it out of the pit. Joy looks back in horror as Bing Bong starts to physically disappear, knowing that he needs to sacrifice himself so that Riley can be happy. After all, she was his best friend.
“Take her to the moon for me, okay?” Bing Bong calls out. “I’ll try, Bing Bong,” Joy says as the wagon rocket speeds away. (No, you’re the one tearing up just remembering it.)
* The end
Pixar creators have always been evil geniuses when it comes to super-sad endings. But the sniffling in the theater started early as Riley tries to run away from home, then quickly changes her mind just as her parents start to freak out. Around the same time, Joy, who has desperately been trying to shield Riley from Sadness (Phyllis Smith), has a realization: Sometimes, you need to go through something terrible in order to grow stronger, which will eventually lead you to happiness.
In fact, Joy starts to understand, it’s fine that some of Riley’s core memories are tinged with sadness — like that time she missed the winning hockey goal. Sure, she was sad; but as a result, her parents came to cheer her up and her teammates hoisted her on their shoulders anyway. And just like that, everything was okay again.
Riley arrives home to her worried parents … and finally dissolves into tears, even though she’s been holding back her feelings about the move for the whole movie. Her parents wrap her in a hug and tell her that what she’s feeling is totally normal — in fact, they’re sad about leaving Minnesota, too.
Then, Family Island (one of Riley’s personality islands that got destroyed when she lied to her parents about running away) gets rebuilt in her mind. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.