Inside Out - Movie Content Review

Inside Out - Content Review

Sometimes a few spoilers are necessary to properly discuss the content of the movie

Inside Out is a movie about 11-year-old Riley as she navigates life immediately after a family move across the country.  The movie is primarily focused on her emotions, represented as 5 people in her head who control her: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.  When Joy (and Sadness) end up stranded away from the control center, everything goes to pieces as normally happy Riley spirals out of control and loses her core values.  The movie mostly focuses on Joy and Sadness desperately trying to navigate Riley’s collapsing mind on their way back to the control center, with sprinklings of Riley’s struggles in between.

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Inside Out - Prime Video


This movie is very pro-family, despite the story requiring a temporary degradation of it in the middle.  

Inside Out also conveys the message that we need a mix of all emotions, and that a memory is best when it elicits more than one emotion.


Inside Out - Language


There are no swear words used in the movie.  “That curse word we know” is mentioned several times, but not specified.


Inside Out - Fears


At one point Joy falls into an inescapable (but she gets out), deep, dark pit.  A big creepy clown is used to scare Riley awake.  One of the characters is named Fear and it is their job to point out all of Riley’s potential fears, but they’re usually something unrealistic and silly.  The plot focuses on the aftermath of a family move across the country.

There are no storms, fires, scary monsters, strong villains, kidnappings, or home break-ins.

Inside Out - Family & Relationships

Family & Relationships

A major plot point in the movie is that things have become soo difficult at the new house that Riley decides to steal from her mom’s purse, lie to her parents about going to school that day, get on a bus headed back to where they used to live, and ignore her mom’s phone calls.  The idea is talked about at length by her emotions as well.  Once the bus starts moving, Riley quickly realizes the error of her ways, gets off the bus, and heads home (where her parents are making desperate phone calls trying to find out what happened to her).  The movie does a good job creating the build up of emotions and representing the realistic kid-level rationalization of the decision to run away.  Younger kids are probably going to feel some deep emotions as this plays out on screen.  In the end it is made clear that running away was a bad idea.

There are a couple instances where toddler Riley is shown naked.  Her naked butt is shown once, while her chest (bare and without detail) is shown several times.  The scenes are typical toddler stuff (like playing in the bath) that kids with younger siblings would be used to, but not something you’d typically see shown in a movie.

A make-believe boyfriend who “would die for Riley” is briefly in two scenes.  There’s a short scene where a boy’s emotions panic while he stares unresponsive because a girl is talking to him.  At the end of the movie, one emotion sees and incorrectly reads out the word “puberty” as “pooberty”, after which the characters say they don’t know what it means.

Riley starts out as a happy kid with a good relationship with her family, but as the movie progresses she becomes more agitated and ends up in a couple fights with her parents.  The fights are fairly tame.  By the end of the movie everything is mended.  The movie is pro family, and family is even mentioned as one of Riley’s core values.

There are no divorces, losses of a loved one, or bullying.

Inside Out - Other Content

Other Content

The movie takes place inside the head of an 11 year old girl (who is controlled by 5 emotions) and highlights many memories from the time she was a toddler.  There’s many mentions of silly things like an imaginary friend and even a brief mention of a unicorn.

Since this is a movie about emotions, there’s a ton of discussion about emotions, emotion inducing scenes, and navigating around how emotions impact our lives. Sadness and Joy are the biggest ones discussed, with a focus on Sadness; but there’s also Anger, Disgust, and Fear.  The range of emotions this movie hits the viewer with may be overwhelming for any child who still struggles with controlling their own emotions; while the movie could be used as a discussion topic for older kids.

When memories fall into the deep dark pit they get erased, and therefore the emotions end up navigating around it, almost falling into it several times, and even accidentally falling into it once.  One character sacrifices himself so the other can escape the dark pit and he ends up getting erased (depicted as slowly fading into nothingness).  There’s one scene about abstract thought where the characters change into simpler and simpler shapes as they try to escape; understanding this scene will be lost on younger viewers, but they’ll absolutely feel the emotional desperation of trying to escape before the characters die.

In this movie the 5 emotions in people’s head essentially control them.  In the beginning Joy is the primary emotion and desired outcome for all events, with things like Fear coming in only to keep Riley safe.  But over the course of the movie, it is taught that a balance of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger are necessary.  Memories are also stored in balls, with older memories getting erased and special core memories defining who a person is and what their values are.  When the core memories are erased, a person loses their identity.  The takeaway that all emotions should be equally valued may not align with your family’s beliefs.  The emotions controlling Riley could also prove very confusing for children to separate from reality.  Additionally, the movie’s theme that core memories form our core values, instead of our morals forming them, could be a concept that confuses children’s understanding of reality.

There are a couple instances of very minor cartoon violence.  Disgust occasionally makes an over exaggerated "trying not to puke" face.

There is no Strong Violence, Time Travel, Politics, Evolution, LGBT, or Religion.

Inside Out - Content Review


Inside Out is a fun movie about emotions and is very pro-family; but it is probably targeted at younger teens who have the capability to process the massive volume of emotions and understand that we control our own emotions, not that our emotions control us.  The smaller your child is, the more of an emotional roller coaster this movie is going to be for them.  There’s quite the focus on Sadness and a growing horrible feeling as Riley continues to fall apart throughout the course of the movie; and smaller children will definitely feel it.  

The movie also touches on several topics/ideas that your child may not be ready for, like running away from home.  The build up to running away is a slow one, so it can be used as a good opportunity to talk with your children about how emotions can snowball into extremes if left to continue on their own; instead they should be open with their parents about the topics they’re struggling with.

There are also a few various shorts that were made after the movie, and I encourage you to preview them first, as their content is a little different than what’s in the movie.  Additionally, you should be aware that on YouTube there are several fan-made hyper-sexualized clips that will deceptively get mixed in with legitimate clips from the movie.


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