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Inside Out: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


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Inside Out feels like the movie Pixar was destined to make. It's imaginative, funny and charming. Director Pete Docter (the guy behind Monsters, Inc. and Up) really brought the studio's creative A-game in this new animated, family-friendly film.

As is custom for Pixar movies, Inside Out entertains the kiddos all while engaging the adults in the audience. This one, in particular, skews a little older, not for any adult-only content, but for its smart moments looking at our emotional makeup and parenting a pre-teen.


Life is good for 11-year-old Riley. She feels at home on the ice, playing hockey with her friends. Spending time with her loving parents in their pleasant Midwest town is a favorite pastime. But it all turns upside down when Riley's family moves to San Francisco. Now, she's in a new city, having to go to a new school, and her emotions -- Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness -- don't know quiet how to help her deal with it all.


Inside Out goes inside the mind of an 11 year old and, at times, her parents. In an abstract and creative way, Inside Out looks at how our minds process life, as well as, the innocence of childhood and how fleeting it is as Riley grows up. Throughout her story, we realize the important role sadness plays as we cope with life. In the beginning, Joy is at the forefront. She takes charge. Her answer to all of Riley's problems is to put a happy spin on it. But, she realizes that each emotion plays a significant role. In the end, we're reminded of the importance of reaching out to family, communicating our sadness, and working through that pain together.

If you're expecting to stay in the control-room head space featured in the trailers for Inside Out, you're going to be surprised when the plot takes us further into Riley's subconscious, into her personality and her long-term memory. It's an adventure ride as her emotions try to navigate the strange new world she now has to call home. There is some dialogue that will definitely go over kids' heads, but the vibrantly colorful action will keep them engaged.

The vocal cast, led by former SNL star Amy Poehler as the blue-haired, bubble of fun named Joy, is picture-perfect. Joining her in the control-room of Riley's mind is SNL alum Bill Hader as Fear, comedian Lewis Black as Anger, and The Office's Mindy Kaling and Phyllis Smith as Disgust and Sadness.

Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action, Inside Out is suitable for almost the entire family. Caution is advised for parents with children five and under. A few climactic events could be upsetting to some young viewers. (Spoiler ahead...) Riley's imaginary friend (voiced by Richard Kind) bravely sacrifices himself and, as a result, disappears from existence. At one point, a gigantic, boisterous clown wreaks havoc. Christian parents may also take offense at how Riley's mom daydreams about another man she almost married when she gets upset with her husband.


Inside Out is a moving story that will amuse kids and charm adults. And it's not just for parents. Inside Out is one of those layered movies that can reach a wide audience. It's truly one of Pixar's best.

Note: The animated short preceding Inside Out, titled "Lava", is sweet and touching. It's the story of a lonely volcano and his longing to be loved as told through a beautiful song. Kudos to Pixar on this gem of a short.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's