In my opinion, Inside Out is a crowning jewel for Pixar studios. With the exception of perhaps tying with Up, I feel Inside Out is the best movie Pixar has made to date.
The first trailer for Disney Pixar’s Inside Out was a montage of Pixar’s past films. It was clear that the point of the trailer wasn’t to tell the audience about Inside Out, but to remind us of the exceptional films that have come from the studio. It’s no secret that the movies of the last few years just haven’t been as excellent as those of years past.
The story of Inside Out follows Riley’s emotions. Riley is an eleven-year-old girl, who has had a happy childhood, loves her parents, her friends, and hockey. Her parents are kind and love her very much. Joy, the emotion in her head, is quite proud of herself, that most of Riley’s memories at the end of the day are joyful. All of her “core” (the memories that make up who Riley is) are joyful. Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear are also present, but they are supporting characters at this point in Riley’s life. And then her world changes and her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Riley is excited at the adventure of the move and a new school. But the realization that things will never be the same sinks in and she starts wrestling with her emotions. Most of the story follows Joy and Sadness who, through an accident, get separated from Headquarters, where the emotions literally pull a lever for Riley to feel. This leads Riley unable to feel joy or sadness until Joy and Sadness can make it back to Headquarters—and worse, it leaves Anger, Disgust, and Fear in charge.
Pixar is never one to shy away from difficult topics, and is a master story-teller at taking on very human concepts and expressing them through unique methods. There are no “larger than life” trials in Riley’s life. Her challenges are ones that all children and former children can relate to, and the conclusion is masterfully done—growing up, moving, change, and seeing the bittersweet old memories that were once only joyful.
There is a running joke that Anger may use that “one curse word they know,” but he never actually uses it and there is no profanity.
There is also no sexual content. One of Riley’s memories show her as a toddler running around naked after a bath, and we see her butt for a moment.
There is no violence. There is a traumatic scene after Riley takes Anger’s suggestion. This scene could be frightening to younger audiences. There is also a scene where Joy and Sadness are watching one of Riley's dreams and the dream shows a dog running around after getting cut in half. It is very cartoon, but could also be frightening to very young audiences. One of the characters is seen fading away, inferring they have died.
Special Note for Parents:
This is an emotion driven (no pun intended) movie. You may cry through it. Seeing Riley struggle through the new emotions with the move and her confusion as she isn’t sure how to work through this new phase in her life is heart wrenching. But the ending, seeing how her parents love her and they will work through all this newness together, is heartwarming. You may cry.
Heidi Joelle is professional minion by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or the opportunity of traveling somewhere new. Her Saint Bernard, Smokey, and problem-solving cat, Diamond, bring extra joy to daily life.