For the Kids · Movies

Inside Out is One of Pixar’s Best

Typically, when I sit down to watch a Pixar movie with my toddler (or in the past, by myself or with my husband…), I know it’s going to be good. Let’s forget about Cars 2 for a moment, and acknowledge that Pixar knows what they’re doing when they set out to make an animated film that will appeal to both kids and their parents.

So when we watched Inside Out, I expected it to be good. My (then)two-year-old was enthralled and wanted to watch the “movie with those funny guys” again and again. But I didn’t let him. Because I just couldn’t take it.


Kids (especially pre-teen girls…) are emotional. Let’s make a movie where the various emotions inside a kid’s brain are the main characters. Boom. I give you Inside Out.


We get a look inside the head (or really, the heart, if you wanted to get all philosophy-of-the-human-person about it…) of an eleven-year-old girl named Riley. She is primarily a happy person, so Joy is her dominant emotion. Which means that a perky little blue lady by the name of Joy who lives inside Riley is essentially our protagonist. When Riley’s parents uproot her to move across the country and Riley is suddenly not happy anymore, Joy must set off on a mission across Riley’s brain to figure out how to solve the problem. Along the way, Joy is helped and hindered by the other main emotions inside Riley: Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear, all of them represented by little animated guys or girls.

I laughed, I cried…

The movie’s an animated adventure-comedy, so why in the world did it make me cry? Oh goodness, where to begin…

It was so emotionally accurate. I couldn’t believe it. Long before the deep, dark, all is lost moment that proceeds Joy figuring out what to do and involves a component of Riley’s young childhood sacrificing himself, I was already misty-eyed. Because as the emotions fought for dominance and tried to make sense of things, it just seemed like, “I have felt this.”

So, maybe I’m just an overly-emotional schmuck, crying at a kids’ movie? I think not. See this article, or this one. It’s not just me. It was kind of all over the internet, stories about why parents were crying next to their obliviously happy kids, back when it first came out. Even the “Honest Trailer” from the Screen Junkies Youtube channel has their announcer-voice man break into fake tears (note that these Honest Trailers are usually hilarious but do sometimes contain some non-kid-friendly stuff, as this one does… just wanted to make sure you didn’t show it to your little kids who love the movie!).

The PG Rating

Inside Out is rated PG for “mild thematic elements and some action.” Give me a break.

Much like the similarly PG-rated Pixar flick Up, this is a mighty soft PG. I guess there are a few places a little kid might get mildly frightened, but that’s about it. Nothing like the intensity of, say, The Lion King (rated G) or Bambi’s mother getting shot and killed (also G).

The only other issue this movie has are a couple scenes where the girl does things like talk back to her parents and decide to run away. Pretty mild stuff, especially considering that her poor behavior is directly addressed and discussed in the movie itself.

Over All

I do want to be clear: This is not a depressing, sad film at all. The crying is because of how it resonates, emotionally. There are plenty of laughs along the way as well. And while it might feel a little too harrowing for an adult to watch it as often as your toddler might prefer, don’t miss it just because you don’t want to cry. That would be a shame. Because this is really an excellent movie.

9 thoughts on “Inside Out is One of Pixar’s Best

  1. I have a friend who worked on the movie and it was the first movie my son got to see in a theater. He still found it interesting at 3, but there was a lot for the adults to chew over too. Conveying the complexity of emotion, especially in kids, and the importance of connection and emotional support left a lot to think about as a parent!

    1. Exactly! I feel like I could probably even glean more from watching it a second time.

  2. I only 1/2 watched it when we rented it because I was multi-tasking. I guess I need to rent it again and watch it fully. Sounds like I would enjoy it.

  3. This sounds like such an interesting way to portray the concept of depression to children. Hopefully if they ever experience that as they grow older, they’ll be reminded of the point that they are not broken, but something in their brain is simply not working properly and that can totally be fixed!

  4. I think it is a sad movie, though… because as a viewer (especially with kids who are Army BRATS, so move every.two.years), I could see how these emotions play out in real life. And, sometimes are more emotionally based than rationally based. It may also have been a movie I watched *right* before we moved! So, I struggled – and, yet, found so much in common with the character, and the parents!

    Thank you for your review – I ultimately agree… it isn’t a depressing film, it does just resonate so deeply!

    1. Oh I can definitely see it hitting even harder if I were to watch it around a time when we were moving! … And I kind of love the fact that it’s well-done enough to be that powerful. Thanks for your thoughts!

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