Pixar’s Inside Out Family Movie Moms Review

Pixar's Inside Out Family Discussion Guide & Movie Review // ohAmanda.com #familymoviemoms

If you haven’t been here for one of my movie reviews you should know that I’m not going to talk about cinematography or acting. I want to help parents discover how they can use movies to bring up eternal conversations with their kids. I also want to help parents know if they should avoid a movie–not because it’s lame but because of themes that hit closer to home like family relationships, worldview, etc. (See my Brave review for more!)

Let’s begin with a mini, spoiler-free synopsis, shall we?

An 11 year old girl named Riley has five emotions in her head–Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust. These emotions navigate her through a life-changing event. Much chaos ensues.

Sounds fun, right?

Now, a slightly spoiler-ish, but-not-going-to-ruin-the-movie-for-you more detailed synopsis…

11 year old Riley has super-fun parents who play hockey with her, make jokes and spend lots of time with her. When they decide to move across the country, Riley puts on a brave face but the transition is hard and she eventually takes drastic moves to get her old life back.

Meanwhile, we get a peek into her emotions when we meet Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust—five little emotional characters who man “headquarters” in Riley’s head. They watch what’s going on in Riley’s life and use their special abilities to control and steer Riley’s responses.

When Sadness keeps touching (and permanently changing) the joyful “core memories” in Riley’s memory and eventually dislodges all the awesome core memories that make up who she is, disaster strikes. Joy and Sadness are swept away to the recesses of Riley’s memories while Disgust, Fear and Anger have to navigate Riley through the big move.

Joy and Sadness travel through dream land, imagination and more to get back to headquarters. But it’s harder than they think and of course, learn big lessons along the way.


Now. Let’s talk about what you’re going to want to talk about after you see the movie with your kids. Because if you see this movie and do NOT have conversation about it afterwards, you are missing out on such a big opportunity!


1. Kids don’t need happy-happy-joy-joy, perfect days every single day of their life. HUGE SPOILER: Joy finally learns that Riley needs Sadness, too. She sees that when there’s sadness, there’s others around to help and comfort. Sadness can often lead to joy.


It is not our job to make our kids happy. It is our job to lead our kids through life so they can be amazing adults. They need to know their car will break down, they might not get the job and they don’t give participation awards in college. We don’t need to snowplow the roads of life for our kids. Let them have sadness, disappointment and rejection.

2. As your kids get older, they do not have to hate you.

Riley is only 11 in this movie but she loves her parents. Her core memories are of amazing times spent with her parents. Everything about who she is on the inside is because of her parents. Be encouraged, moms and dads–your kids need your hugs, they need your kisses goodnight, they need your protection and love no matter how old they are!


This movie is about an 11 year old girl. My niece is an 11 year old girl and is as sweet as the day is long, but I can see her transition from little girl to teenager. Lots of stuff goes on in an 11 year old kid’s heart and mind and emotions.


When Riley moves, Sadness creeps in. Sometimes the sadness was totally unexplained. Sometimes the sadness was about a happy memory. Eventually, all the emotions were mixed up (in a good way) in her memories.

Talk to your tweens about how emotions can change. Explain that as they grow into this new almost-adult season of their life, that inexplicably, an emotion might pop up at the exact wrong time.

Disgust, Fear and Anger were controlling Riley through all her big mistakes during the movie. As tweens, they might feel those emotions rising up in them–but unlike Riley, they can control their emotions. Let your kids know they don’t have to give into being controlled by their emotions. They can choose to lead and act on any emotion–not just the one yelling the loudest.

Read Romans 8:5-6 (or even the whole chapter) and talk about how we can be controlled by the Holy Spirit and not our flesh.


Besides the controlling of emotions (which is appropriate to all ages at one level), there’s a really meaningful, long character arc about Riley’s imaginary friend Bong Bong. <<SPOILER ALERT>> As he helps Joy and Sadness get back to Headquarters, he ends up sacrificing himself–leaving Riley’s memory forever. He put Riley’s future happiness before his own desires.

It was one of the most beautiful parts of the story to me. Talk to your kids about how Bong Bong put Riley first even after he’d been ignored and forgotten for years. Ask them to think of a time when someone sacrificed what they wanted for them. Encourage them to put others first even when they really want to do things their own way.

Read Mark 10:44. Talk about choosing to be a servant and slave to others.

Now, a few little things:

1. If you are a parent, this movie will make you cry and want to pull out photo albums of your kids’ first years. (ps: look for some UP scenes hidden in Riley’s memories!)

2. The dream land Joy and Sadness go through had some nightmare related stuff–Riley even has a nightmare at one point. There was a giant clown, dead rats, ghosts, etc. I don’t think it was super scary–more silly. But beware if your kiddos are bothered by nightmares.

3. Anger really wants to use a curse word. (Although, the first time he mentions it he says, “that curse word we know”…meaning they only know one! So innocent.)

4. This movie totally reminded me of my long-lost favorite attraction at Epcot, Cranium Command! Right?!

5. Did you see Wreck-It Ralph? I thought it was one of the most boring Disney movies ever. One reason I didn’t like it is because of the long long journey the two characters had through all those weird candy lands. It was like never ending. Part of Inside Out felt that way, too. The whole time Joy and Sadness were trying to get back to headquarters they were going through all these weird made up places in Riley’s brain and always hitting a dead end. I’m not saying it was boring, just kinda long.

6. The end of the movie (maybe it was the credits, now that I think about it) finally showed everyone’s inner emotions (including cats and dogs!). It was probably the funniest part of the movie and I especially liked the “popular girls” inner thoughts, “Are they paying attention to me? Do they see how much I’m trying?” Her calm, cool and collected exterior did not match her inside. Another great conversation starter–people are not as they appear. And are usually more insecure than they let on.

7. You may have seen the preview where the mom dreams about a long-lost lover…that part really irked me. There was a slight recovery to it at the end but…eh. Wishing someone else was your husband doesn’t make me happy.

8. There was a super cute Hawaiian-volcano-song short but there wasn’t a secret at the end. Just a sweet dedication: “This movie is dedicated to our kids. Don’t grow up. Ever.”


I really did like this movie and as I’ve thought about it over the past few days, it’s grown on me. It’s not as amazing to me as Up or even Frozen. It doesn’t have the epic quality of Tangled or Toy Story. But parts of it are completely heart-squeezingly sweet. The parents-child relationship alone makes it worth watching!

I can see my sensitive 9 year old being a little overwhelmed by all the emotions and thoughts…especially if she relates them to her own thoughts. My funny six year old will like it but it won’t be something he’s going to watch over and over again.

It’s appropriate for all ages but I don’t think it will be adored by all ages. It definitely had an older feel to it. It is about an 11 year old girl and her 11 year old emotions.

Overall, I say THANK YOU Pixar for a movie about how great parents are and how emotions are fickle. Take your kids to see Inside Out and afterwards talk about your family relationships, how much you love your kids and are ready for any and every emotion that comes up in their life!

ps–I know I missed a ton, let me know when you’ve seen the movie what you thought & what conversations you had with your kids!


I attended a screening of Inside Out as a member of the media. All opinions mine. Photos belong to Walt Disney Pictures. 

Summer Read & Do List

Summer Read & Do List: fun activities, books & devotions for families //ohAmanda.comOK. So, I wanted to make a This-Is-What-We’re-Doing-This-Summer List for you. Then, I kinda wanted to do a Summer Reading List, too. But, neither list was as wonderfully list-y as I wanted it to be.

Instead, I’m combining them into a Summer Read and Do List. Alternately titled, “I Felt Like Writing a List and This is What Happened”

1. Mountain Biking

Did you know kids could mountain bike? Did you know mountain biking isn’t this? I didn’t! Asa and I discovered a beginner’s mountain biking trail the other week and we are in love. We’ve been to three different trails and cannot wait to do more.

Summer Read & Do List: fun activities, books & devotions for families //ohAmanda.com

It’s the beauty of hiking, but a little faster and a little more exciting. Of course, there have been at least two times I’ve just jogged behind the kids because 1) I couldn’t fit my bike in the car 2) Asa requires a little help getting over hills and roots. Regardless, it’s our new favorite thing.

2. Cold Tangerines

I’ve enjoyed Shauna Niequist on the Relevant Podcast for over a year now. But I just opened up her first book, Cold Tangerines last night. (Which I actually bought like 5 years ago for myself with Christmas money.) And I love it. Sheesh. Why didn’t y’all tell me? Oh, you did tell me? Oops. Slow mover.

3. Summerrific Faith Adventures

Summer Read & Do List: fun activities, books & devotions for families //ohAmanda.com 

Last year’s Bible Detectives was such a hit, I couldn’t wait for the free family devotional download from Thriving Family magazine. This year’s Summerrific Faith Adventures is a free download and it’s so super easy—a piece of a puzzle gives a Scripture and accompanying activity. Once you piece the puzzle together, you can search for hidden pictures.

Summer Read & Do List: fun activities, books & devotions for families //ohAmanda.com

So far, we’ve made paper helicopters, wrote a Bible verse on tape and stuck it to our couch, made Bible memory verse playing cards, played an audio guessing game and more.

Summer Read & Do List: fun activities, books & devotions for families //ohAmanda.com

The kids ask to do our devotion every day and I love that we have a simple (super simple) way to incorporate God’s Word into our daily life.

4. Operation Christmas Child

I know, I know. It seems very far away until those little shoeboxes need to be packed and delivered. But with our 100 box goal, we’ve got some packing to do. I’ve got an update coming on the blog soon!

5. Picture Books

We are reading books like they are going out of style. Yesterday, we found every pillow in the house and made a reading nest. And because I’m a suddenly a freak about recording everything I read, here’s a board with all the books I’ve read to the kids this year. I’m always updating it with mini-reviews…

Follow ohAmanda’s board 1000 Books on Pinterest.   


6. The Lunar Chronicles It has to happen every year. I have to find a new Young Adult series to read and gush over. This year, it’s the tale of Cinder (a Cinderella cyborg), Scarlet (a spaceship flying Red Riding Hood) and Cress (a locked-in-a-satellite Rapunzel). Yes, it’s fairytales in a space-age, futuristic, dystopian world. Yes, it seems totally cheesy. But I totally love it. And am anxiously awaiting the 4th book that comes out in *gasp* *choke* *faint* November.

7. Adventures in Odyssey

I know you’re not surprised by this–Adventures in Odyssey is a mainstay at our house. We listen to 2-3 adventures a day! Seriously, if you haven’t joined the Odyssey Adventure Club, this is the time. The first month is only $5. Do it.

8.  On Shifting Sand

Allison Pittman writes beautifully sad novels. Do you like sad stories? I do. On Shifting Sand is sad. It’s beautiful. You won’t be able to put it down. But, it’s sad.

I think it’s my favorite of the year so far. The story is of a mama in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl—and it’s hard to read because the choices this woman makes are just awful. The book is really about marriage, but I felt it applied to so much more than just marriage. It’s a look into temptations, the lies you tell yourself and how needy and deserving we are of grace. (Did I mention it’s sad?)

9. What’s in the Bible?

This summer we are watching all of the WITB series in a row. The kids have watched them over the years but never close together (and probably not in order). Today was our first installment. We learned about the Septuagint and the definition of “testament” (it means promise).

Then we colored in our big What’s in the Bible? coloring book while I asked them questions from a Family Discussion Guide they have on their website. Since I just finished my Bible in 90 Days, I’m super excited to go through the Bible with the kids this way.

Oh, and there’s a 40% off sale going on right now if you wanna add to your WITB collection!


10. Misc.

So, we’ve been to the pool a few times. (Yawn. I always say the pool is a dad job.) We tried to do the Lego Mini Build night but it was so crowded we missed it and missed the registration for July. Boo.

Summer Read & Do List: fun activities, books & devotions for families //ohAmanda.com

We even made a giant calendar to make sure we don’t miss summer puppet shows, $1 movies, free crafts at Michael’s and all the fun at local museums. I gotta tell you, I’m kinda in love with summer.

So, what are you doing/reading this summer?


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