Story

Inside Out is an animated comedy about a girl named Riley (voice of Kaitlyn Dias), who is uprooted from her life in the US Midwest when her father gets a new job in San Francisco. 

Riley is largely guided by her emotions, each of which is shown as an actual character. There is Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness (voiced by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling). These emotions live in a place called the Headquarters, the control centre of Riley’s mind, and they advise Riley in her day-to-day life. Each emotion has a particular purpose. Joy tries to keep Riley happy, Fear keeps her safe, Disgust stops her from suffering physically and socially, and Anger ensures fairness. Sadness, however, doesn’t believe she has a purpose and stays in the background most of the time. 

Riley finds it very hard to adjust to her new life. Her emotions try to keep things running smoothly, but it is not until Sadness realises that she serves a real and important purpose in Riley’s life that things start moving in a positive direction.

Themes

Emotions; family relationships; personal growth

Violence

There is minimal violence in Inside Out. Examples include the following:

  • A train is derailed and falls over a cliff.
  • Riley’s parents fight verbally, and Riley yells at them as a result. 
  • Anger’s head bursts into flames whenever he’s very angry or upset.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Inside Out has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • When characters fall into Riley’s subconscious, the surroundings are dark and frightening.
  • Riley’s imaginary friend disappears and doesn’t exist anymore. 
  • Some of Riley’s fears include a scary giant clown and a dead mouse.

From 5-8
Younger children in this age group might be scared by some of the scenes mentioned above. In particular, they might worry when Riley thinks about running away.

From 8-13
Nothing of concern

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

There is no product placement of concern in the movie, but associated merchandise is being marketed to children.

Coarse language

Inside Out includes some insults like ‘shut up’, ‘moron’ and ‘dumb’. And Anger talks about knowing a swear word, but the word is bleeped out when he finally says it. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Inside Out is an interesting animated comedy. Its complex story shows that it’s important for you to experience a full range of emotions, even negative emotions like sadness. This lets you appreciate positive times and also helps to enrich your life. The movie suggests that it’s important to show your emotions too, so that other people will know when you need care and attention, especially when you don’t have the words to say what you need. 

The complexity and emotional intensity of the story make it more suited to children aged over nine years. Younger children might be confused by references to abstract thoughts and the subconscious and by emotions being shown as actual characters. There are also some scenes that might scare younger children. Therefore Inside Out isn’t recommended for children under 6 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 6-9 years. 

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:

  • Although it might be uncomfortable, it’s normal to experience emotions like sadness, anger and hurt. 
  • Open communication between people (particularly parents and children) is crucial to good relationships.