Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Inside Out

MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for mild thematic elements and some action.

Reviewed by: Samuel Chetty

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Teens Family
Genre: Animation Family Kids Comedy
Length: 1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release: 2015
USA Release: June 19, 2015 (wide—3,946 theaters)
DVD: November 3, 2015
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Relevant Issues

difficulties of growing up

EMOTIONS: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness

How does the human mind and emotions work?

HUMILITY vs. pridefulness and self-absorption


ANXIETY, FEAR AND WORRY—What does the Bible say? Answer


What is the greatest source of problems with human emotions?

sin and the fall of man

importance of controlling our actions with our mind, not our merely our emotions / goodness and righteousness

Do NOT click on this button

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer


Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer


What should we thank God for, and how should we praise Him? Answer

THANKFULNESS—Tips for New and Growing Christians—GO

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Featuring Diane LaneMom (voice)
Kyle MacLachlanDad (voice)
Amy PoehlerJoy (voice)
Mindy Kaling … Disgust (voice)
Bill HaderFear (voice)
Richard Kind … Bing Bong (voice)
Phyllis Smith … Sadness (voice)
Jess Harnell … Additional Voices (voice)
Lewis Black … Anger (voice)
Laraine Newman … Mother's Fear (voice)
See all »
Director Pete Docter — “Up,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and writer of “WALL-E
Producer Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures

“Meet the little voices inside your head.”

Sequel: “Inside Out 2” (2024)

“Inside Out” is a movie that shows us a character from the inside out. An eleven year-old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) has personified emotions inside her head who react to situations in her life and have control panels to make her express various feelings. We meet Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and other characters who play various roles in Riley’s mind, which is a very complex place with many locations representing elements of her memory and lifestyle. Shortly after the movie opens, Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, and she feels very uncomfortable with her new setting, leaving each emotion in a fight for control. Can the different emotions work together? Or is there a dominant emotion that will prevail?

This movie is quite a show. You just need to sit back and be amused by the clever, intriguing depictions of how Riley’s mind works, instead of asking when the next big event is coming. In typical Pixar fashion, there are lots of nutty situations, but, as usual, they have done it tastefully without overly silly antics. It has been said that some people have a world inside their head, and, in this movie, it is quite literal, giving the movie an adventurous feel. The amount of variance in scenery is also impressive.

I do not think of myself as a very emotional person, in the sense of outward expression, but I do tend to be introspective and philosophical, and this movie is easy for me to relate to. I have often thought of the human mind as a complicated system, and having studied Computer Science, I tend to think of the mind in computerized terms, and this movie personifies the different parts. From a Christian perspective, a question raised by this movie could be whether our minds control us, or whether we control our minds.

Looking at this question Biblically, consider Romans 8:5-6 (NRSV),

“Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

I take this to mean that our degree of freedom to live by the Spirit depends on what we focus our minds upon. We should focus on being freed from temptation rather than obsessing over temptation’s power.

In summary, I think that “Inside Out” raises meaningful discussion points, and, morally, it is one of the cleanest modern movies I have seen. There is plenty of non-violent action to keep kids engaged, but the humor and concept of the movie can entertain teenagers and adults. I definitely give “Inside Out” a positive recommendation.

Content concerns

Language: nitwit (1), stupid (2), heck (3). A character says he wants to cuss several times, but he either doesn’t do it or it’s fully beeped out.

Violence: Some perilous situations, but nothing malicious

Sex/Nudity: A toddler’s backside is shown once. Parents kiss briefly.

Other: A girl steals her mother’s credit card in a plot to run away from home, but she aborts the plan before getting far.

Violence: Mild / Language: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—As a clinical psychologist and a father of an 11 year old girl, on both accounts I found this movie to be a unique and elegant gem. The movie reasonably captures the current “psycho-developmental” thinking of the role of memories and emotions in decision-making for an 11 year old. I would have added a “Spock-like” toddler who expressed logic (representing the developing pre-frontal cortex responsible for reasoning and controlling emotions) who gets constantly over-ruled to make it a bit more accurate. Of course, a tiny angel representing the spiritual aspect.

This movie implicitly argues for the necessity of parents in guiding and interacting with their children. I spent time discussing the movie with my daughter on the role of emotions in her decision-making and the need to share with us her feelings in order to minimize unnecessary drama in her life. Alas, I’ll (and mom) will have to keep reminding her to be aware and to manage her emotions (without nagging) for the few more years the Lord has given us with her in our home.

Thanks to this excellent movie, she’d like to see it again and I get to slip in more Godly truths into her life. Hurray for Disney on this one!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Stan, age 50 (USA)
Positive—As a parent of teenagers, I wonder if the enjoyable “Inside Out” might help them gain the introspection and empathy they so sorely lack at that age. Yet there is a huge problem with the movie’s philosophy that may in the final analysis cause more harm than good. “Inside Out” brilliantly shows how emotions affect thinking. But realize that it also shows that emotions exclusively rule our thinking. In the “Inside Out” model of the human psyche, there is no will, only emotions. Indeed the emotions have wills of their own, but the protagonist doesn’t.

In this abridged version of the human spirit, it would not be possible to override one’s emotions. This is the mind-set of the narcissist. The mantra of such people is to follow your heart and do (only) what you feel. But that is to miss much of life. Indeed that makes one a slave to the false idol of emotion.

Rather, our thinking should be informed by our emotions but retain ultimate sovereignty over our actions. Easier said than done, but that’s the struggle of life. We must teach our children to do what is right, even when it runs counter to what they feel. We must teach our children to reason, to think—not merely to feel.

“Inside Out” is great as far as it goes, but would be infinitely better if not for this implicit promotion of the relativistic worldview.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Greg, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I really liked this movie. I couldn’t imagine how they would make a whole movie from the point of view of the human emotions, but it came out well. It was funny, with a lot of laughter throughout the movie from both kids and adults. Even the bits during the credits were funny—emotions from the point of view of a cat seemed spot on.

The overall theme of family was important. It is an intact family with a mom and dad, both kind and loving to each other and the daughter. So nice to see when families are often in turmoil. The daughter went through a gambit of emotions, like any child. Having children of various ages myself I could relate to much of the behaviors. The role of sadness as a vital emotion was really interesting. I liked that. I recommend it. It was very funny, sweet and a great overall family film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Andrea, age 42 (USA)
Positive—We enjoyed the movie. My main concerns are what they may be drawing you in for in a sequel, meaning, you thought the first one was ok, but surprise in the second. Also, what the actors stand for overall. It is easy to build a false trust with actors that make a decent movie, when their previous and likely future movies embrace sinful lifestyles with no shame or repentance. Do we really want to support them in anyway? Well in this case I have to admit I did, but it is something to consider.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Adam, age 43 (USA)
Positive—After seeing this movie, which was excellent in every way, I would like to see some discussions of how we would place Jesus in the picture of the inner workings of the emotions, etc.—in our psyche. I know that for some, Theophostic counseling is not accepted. Jesus is viewed as part of a memory in order to heal, etc.—much as the emotions in this movie are viewed as characters. It would be so interesting to hear some discussion on this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Lana, age 62 (USA)
Positive—I enjoyed the movie. Nothing morally objectionable. It’s a good movie to introduce kids to the idea of emotions. I myself forget that negative emotions have a purpose, as well. I know Pixar is moving into the direction of making more sequels, so it’s nice so see an original idea do well. If you want to a good family movie, go see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Keith Chandler, age 36 (USA)
Positive—I have read nearly all the posted reviews of this movie here on Christian Spotlight, and I watched this movie from beginning to end. I can honestly say that, although there are opinions expressed herein with which I may agree, there is not one I’ve read with which I do not disagree. This movie is clearly not an entertainment-only endeavor. It offers a tremendous opportunity to present the viewer with an alternate perspective from their own, and, therefore, also fuel some invaluable introspection.

I whole heartedly agree that it is not entirely appropriate for the very young, maybe 6 or 7 and younger. A scene in which a character was lost produced utter silence in the theater, followed by a flood of young tears during the viewing I attended. I agree the idea of the mother’s character daydreaming about a previous relationship was unnecessary at best, and shameful for a kids” movie after several episodes. Having a 14 year old daughter of my own, I adamantly disagree that the protagonist is in any way portending a “drama queen,” as posted previously. The issues she faces are real-life situations for many pre-teens and teens alike. Sometimes the social situations are overwhelming for a person in that phase of life. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Stephen, age 45 (USA)
Positive—“Inside Out” is one of the finest movies I have seen. Ever. Pixar tells a beautiful story with tenderness and care with a wonderful emphasis on family. From the first scene to the closing credits, I was enthralled. Well done, Pixar; thank you for such a lovely story.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Peter Rhebergen, age 54 (Canada)
Positive—I found this to be an extremely creative and thought provoking film! I enjoyed it a lot even though I found it a bit sad at times. I think this was mostly because I saw my mother deteriorate from dementia and saw memories fade away as they did with the little balls in the story. Although I’m not sure a lot of little people controlling your emotions, leaves any room for God’s influence, the film really does make you think!

One important truth that I noticed was that you can’t have joy without sadness as well, so sadness was a main character for this reason. The friend that attended the movie with me said that she also saw the idea that happiness and joy aren’t exactly the same thing, because Joy was not always happy. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
KPJ, age 55 (Canada)
Positive—Pixar was rolling the dice to create an animated movie in which, through the largest part of it, the lead character is depressed. It addresses the concept of what goes on in a persons mind when they feel that way. The characters that play the five emotions, especially Joy and Sadness, are done so well, Pixar actually pulls it off. I can’t recommend this for children though. They tend to take movies too seriously, and the dramatic tone may be too much for young minds. Children are also impressionable, and it is not good for them to see a child tell their parents to “shut up.” Even though she is disciplined for it, that behavior should not be exposed to them.

The movie does address the value of family and parent/child relationships well, and for that I applaud Pixar. Being a musician, I always pay close attention to the soundtrack. Michael Giacchino’s theme played on piano at the opening of the film, and its use throughout, is delightful. Sadness is a part of life. If it wasn’t for sadness, we would not know the value of joy. Someone very wise once told me, “You shouldn’t expect to be happy all of the time. What would that accomplish?” If you are sad, consider this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9 NIV)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jeff, age 58 (USA)
Positive—I just wanted to point out that the mom’s vision of the guy was a fantasy picture, not an old boyfriend. And we all have them… they made it funny.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Dawn, age 55 (South Yemen)
Positive—I just seen this movie today and thought it was really very good. We live in a world where so many negative things happen, and it almost seems like we are to put a happy face on when we really do not feel that way. The little girl had stressful things happen as she had just moved away from everything familiar, her parents were stressed, she thought she had been forgotten by her best friend, and she thought she couldn’t do one of her favourite hobbies anymore. She felt negative emotions—of which anger, disgust and fear were just a few.

It’s hard enough for adults to sort through those emotions, let alone a child. It may be easy for some people to get past the negative emotions but when dealing with some stressful situations its a lot more difficult for some than others. The message the movie gave me was that it’s okay to feel negative emotions (including sadness) when you are going through something, and that you should reach out to others to help get through it. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
TC, age 45 (Canada)
Neutral—The movie will appeal to different people depending on if they have kids and what stage of life they are in. Seeing the director’s view of how a few little things can cause a child to “go bad” or be isolated was pretty interesting. While a cartoon, the movie does deal with some very deep issues that would not appeal to or could possibly confuse or scare small children. I know the idea that the deep stuff goes over their heads, but even young children can understand a lot of what is going on. There were two younger boys sitting next to us, and, when (trying not to be a spoiler) there was a breakdown in the family, he immediately asked the adult with him if they could leave. So, be careful taking small kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Wesley, age 51 (USA)
Neutral—My friend and I went to see “Inside Out” a couple of days ago. The concept of the movie was a clever one, and I was excited to see how it would play out, especially since I’m usually a big fan of Disney/Pixar films. However, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in this film. Much of the movie was sad, with the main character being ruled by almost all negative emotions, except for one (“Joy”). Much of the movie was spent trying to keep the “Sadness” character from changing all the little girl’s memories so that they became depressing.

In the end, there was a good moral to the film and a happy ending, but it took so long to get there, and there were so many depressing scenes in between, that I still left the film feeling sad. I would much prefer it if the movie had more funny scenes. If I’d been able to laugh and have more fun with it, the film would have been a lot more enjoyable. My advice is to Redbox this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Nicole, age 30 (USA)
Neutral—I liked this movie. I saw it with a mixed group of family/church/friends. Like any Pixar project, it has some laughs ,and it has some tears, and it really gets into your heart. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PARENTS* I have a 6 year old who’s had the same imaginary friend for almost his entire life. He cried when the imaginary friend in the movie died. It wasn’t a “movie” cry… it was a “I’ll never let that happen to MY friend!!” sort of cry. It was very real to him. Please be warned that this movie tugs at the heart of even the youngest viewers!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Chrystal, age 38 (USA)
Negative—I took two of my daughters (age 14 and 3), and neither laughed during the film. That’s pretty sad. They were really looking forward to this flick. We laughed hard at the previews for the other films. This film is depressing and a total waste of time and money. Also, it was pretty immoral to show the mother’s previous “man” as an apparent regret that she married another. The little girl in this film lacks the fruit of self-control and is controlled by the demons in her head. Enough said.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Jenny Shroufe, age 37 (USA)
Negative—This movie is one of the most sad and depressing movies that could have been produced, given the plot boundaries, all while programming viewers with an entirely Godless worldview. There isn’t even room for agnosticism. However, non-Christians who value education will likely also be alarmed at what appears to be an attack on logical human reasoning itself. After viewing, children expressed that they wish they could “scrub the memory of the movie entirely from their brains,” while I wanted to open a free class on symbolic logic for parents and children, so they could know they are not slaves to their emotions.

Now, many people will almost certainly say, “But this movie shows how emotions (a wide range) aren’t bad, but they work together to help make decisions.” That’s great, until about 9-10 months of age, when children need to learn that they control their logical responses to their emotions. Children and adults can use emotions to gather information and to maturely and rationally process information, avoiding innumerable mistakes, but only in a logical construct. Otherwise, children (and adults) are effectively programmed to respond to rhetoric, however illogical or non-factual, with a process that could be described as, “Let’s let all my irrational emotions take a vote, and that is what decision-making is about.”

Although many non-AI (artificial intelligence) researchers may not notice, this movie eliminates God’s role in anyone’s life and replaces it with a Jungian chain of competing/cooperating “Holland Classifier” characters, each representing emotions whose decisions are often effectively random at their core—in the spirit of Marvin Minsky’s “Society of Mind.” Rational thought is conspicuously absent from the emotions that alternately fight and cooperate to control a little girl who is robotically portrayed as a virtually transhumanist entity (one that evokes immense sympathy as well!), in human body, who is experiencing suffering and change.

The good news is that the authors at least portrayed a loving family as a virtue—and a feasible one at that. It may actually be the movie’s only redeeming element. However, without God, I must testify that life is full of many much more painful situations that would have destroyed me with bitterness, sadness, and despair if I could not rely on Him. These are common to all lives, and by erasing any hint of God, I fear for those who will face life’s crises without their Creator. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Sean, age 40 (USA)
Negative—Guys, you can give this one a miss—it’s a chick flick about an eleven year old drama queen who makes mountains out of mole hills, and her mother who still dreams about her old Brazilian boyfriend. The only villain is the drama queen herself, and the art is below Pixar standards. They chose two drawing styles to differentiate between inside and out. The former is drawn in a sketchy, Saturday morning cartoon style, and, unfortunately, it dominates the screen time. On a positive note, there is nothing evil or supernatural, and my 10 and 12 year old grandsons said it was OK.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Brian Schacht, age 68 (Canada)
Negative—I am surprised how many are saying they liked this movie, because most of the movie was depressing! The concept of the movie is a good idea, but most of the time the “sadness” emotion was a big part of the movie, and it was depressing and exhausting, always being so negative.

Then to watch parts of the main character’s personality crumble before you. Most of the time she was sad because of that “sadness” emotion. I would never let children watch this for it just perpetuates the idea that we don’t have control over our emotions, that we are just like these robots that are being controlled by our emotions from a switchboard in our own head.

Then, of course, the few times they showed the horrible thoughts of the wife thinking of the man she gave up over choosing her husband, when she was not happy with his behavior. Very weird that agenda is in the movie in 3 different scenes, that she daydreams about this other guy when this is a movie kids are going to see. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Stephanie, age 40 (USA)
Neutral—I previously gave a positive response to this movie, okay. I do think you should take Stephanie’s comments into consideration before you see this movie, she makes some valid points. Thank you Stephanie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: none
Adam, age 43 (USA)
Negative—I agree with “Stephanie 40 from the states” so I am only tagging on to what she already said. Sadly, I went in with hope, and left depressed. I choose to share an opinion to maybe help someone not waste their hard earned money; this one isn’t worth your cash or time. If you want to be upset/sad, turn on any news. If you want to be entertained, choose to be optimistic and keep looking.

My advice “don’t settle” Weigh and Measure your choices against the Bible’s standard; not society’s slide rule. Yet, show grace to those who are in disagreement; it’s only a movie after all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Chris, age 44 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I went to see this with my two sisters, because we are huge animated movie fans, and it did not disappoint. While not as great or funny as other Pixar films, it packs in a few giggles. I have to admit the film is slow paced, and I couldn’t see anyone under 6 staying interested. The premise of the film is genius and has not been done before. The story is the emotions inside a girl’s head trying to fix a memory spill. The film gets to you and makes you care, and it made my sister cry. The film is cute and makes you care for the characters. I suggest this film if you want to have some fun at the movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Matthew, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I went to see this movie yesterday with a parent. As highly anticipated as it was, “The Force Awakens” was satisfying as an avid Star Wars fan (great story) and a Christian (nothing racy or overly violent). General Snoke may be scary for younger kids, and I would read the wonderful worldview analysis above (because it explains why certain parts of the force and some other parts of the Jedi world are unbiblical). However, objectionable content is kept at a minimum, and the positive aspects of the film outweigh any negatives.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Nora, age 17 (USA)

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