Inside Out Parent Review

"Inside Out" could be a good movie to begin a conversation about the importance of giving voice to all of our feelings.

Overall B+

Moving to a new city can create a real mix of emotions, and this is especially true for Riley (voice of Kaitlyn Dias) who finds change causing the voices in her mind to get louder. Competing are Joy, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Anger (voices of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith and Lewis Black).

Violence B-
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A-
Substance Use A

Inside Out is rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.

Movie Review

Have you ever asked yourself what could possibly be going on inside your child’s head? Well now, thanks to Peter Doctor, you may find out. He co-wrote and directed the new Pixar/Disney movie Inside Out. And from his perspective, a kid’s mind can be a pretty complicated place.

Riley (voice by Kaitlyn Dias) and her family have just moved across the country from Minnesota to San Francisco. She’s left behind her friends, her school and her hockey team. Her family has relocated in a rundown row house with a dead mouse in the front room. That’s put her emotions—Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Anger (voice of Lewis Black) and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling)—in commotion and left Riley’s parents wondering what has happened to their normally happy 11-year-old.

Joy does her best to keep Riley feeling positive about her new circumstances. But Sadness starts to impact all of Riley’s happy memories. During a bit of an emotional scuffle in Riley’s head Joy and Sadness go missing. That leaves Anger, Disgust and Fear in charge of Riley’s feelings.

Like many other Pixar movies, this storyline doesn’t forget there are adults in the audience too. Along with getting inside of Riley, viewers get to take a peek at the interior of Mom and Dad’s (voices of Dian Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) noggins as well. While the depictions of their emotional command centers may be pretty stereotypical, they at least show that women and men often approach the same issue differently. The plot also takes audiences through the maze of long-term recollections (which looks a lot like huge plastic containers full of colorful candies), down into the dump of forgotten memories, and through dreamland.

Thankfully the film has few content concerns for most viewers. Anger often talks about using a bad word, but it is bleeped out when he finally does. However youngersters may be more bothered by the death of a character and the moments of peril Joy and Sadness experience as they make their way back to headquarters. While the emotions are drawn with cartoonish features, the actions of some of the more realistic characters could be a worry for some families. Upset by her new situation, Riley steals her mother’s credit card, buys a bus ticket and runs away—two acts parents wouldn’t want their own tweens to repeat. A teen boy also repeatedly says he’ll die for Riley. Then he appears to do just that. Parents may have a hard time explaining the rationale for that decision.

However the essence of the story is to appreciate all of our emotions. Admittedly Fear, Disgust and Anger don’t come across quite as favorable as the other two do. Still, Sadness earns her keep in this script, showing that life is full of a mixture of sentiments. That message will likely go over the heads of little ones who will be more entertained by the colorful animation and slapstick antics. Yet for older children and tweens, Inside Out can be a good way to begin a conversation about the importance of giving voice to all of our feelings.

Directed by Pete Docter. Starring Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader. Running time: 94 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Inside Out here.

Inside Out Parents Guide

Talk about the movie with your family…

How can parents teach their children to express their emotions? Is it important for them to understand that all emotions have value if they are expressed appropriately? How can parents model this to their children?

Do Anger, Disgust and Fear get the same respect as Sadness in this story? What qualities does Sadness portray that are positive? Can a person get caught up in expressing only one kind of emotion? Is that healthy?

What are the core memories that have influenced your life?

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