Inside Out

Inside Out

Inside Out

Inside Out
Rating: PG
Run Time: 94 Minutes
Released: 2015
Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Cultural Rating: pawpawpawpaw

This film does an excellent job of addressing how major life events and adolescence influence the complexity of the emotional self. Further, it challenges stereotypes regarding gender.


After Riley and her family move from the Midwest to San Francisco, they navigate the emotional difficulties of leaving their old lives behind. Personifications of Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness are used to show how the move is affecting the family, especially Riley.


Language: poo

  • Demeaning language- “moron,” “dumb,” “stupid,” “shut up,” “shit” is implied but not audible

Violence: 0 poos

  • Slapstick humor


  • Quick visual of baby buttocks

Drugs and Alcohol: 0 poos

Cultural Analysis



  • Most of the major characters in the film are women. This is important because women often play stereotypical or insignificant roles in the media.
  • Riley challenges traditional stereotypes regarding femininity. For example, Riley plays and excels at hockey (active), a traditionally male sport associated with bodily strength and injuries.
  • The film challenges traditional stereotypes regarding masculinity by showing Riley’s father regularly expressing emotions (sadness, goofiness, happiness), which has been stereotyped as a traditionally feminine activity in the media.


  • There are many minor characters of color.

Sexual Orientation: N/A


  • Excessive sadness, anxiety, and anger are regularly depicted as negative in the media. Oftentimes, these “negative” emotions are expected to be hidden. While the film does not address depression or anxiety issues explicitly, it does advocate the importance of addressing emotions and mental health.


  • Various body types are shown in the film, and none of the bodies appear to be sexualized or coded as immoral/moral in relation to their appearance.


Gender: N/A


  • The majority of the main characters appear to be white.

Sexual Orientation:

Disability: N/A


  • The personification of Sadness (generally an undesirable emotion) is short and larger-bodied while Joy (generally a desirable emotion) conforms to the ideal body type for women. This is significant because bodies that do not conform to body or beauty ideals tend to be portrayed as undesirable by the media.


Suggested talking points

  • The film uses Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness personified to illustrate the complexity of human emotions. While an emotion such as sadness is often coded as “negative” in media narratives, Inside Out shows that all emotions, whether “positive” or “negative,” play an important role in the human experience and that emotions are not something to be ashamed of but rather a necessary and normal part of development and life in general. For example, Riley was, at first, ashamed of her sadness as a result of the move. However, by the end of the film, Riley (and even Joy) understand(s) the value of Sadness, and how the emotion is a necessary (and sometimes even positive) part of life experiences.
  • Riley’s childhood imaginary friend essentially “dies” (i.e. the imaginary friend fades from her memory). This can be an opportunity to discuss how loss is a normal part of life.
  • At one point in the film, Riley is so overwhelmed with emotions (and trying to contain them) that she decides to steal her mother’s credit card and run away. Harboring emotions can sometimes result in actions that are out of character for a person; therefore, it is important to seek help when life seems out of control.
  • The film can act as a conversation starter and reference point regarding mental health. For more information about mental health, please visit
  • In the media, suburban life is usually depicted. However, this film focuses on life in a big city.
  • This film plays with stereotypes regarding people who reside in San Francisco. For example, Riley goes to order a slice of pizza at a restaurant and the employee, who has an unnatural hair color and piercings, hands her a pizza slice with a broccoli topping to which Riley retracts in disgust.
  • Inside Out opens with a short film called Lava. This short films acts a good reference point to discuss feelings regarding happiness and sadness. However, the short film does perpetuate the cultural myth of heterosexual love in which this love is needed to feel complete and therefore happy.

Image Credit

Keywords: inside out, movie, family, movie review, gender, body, mental health, 3 1/2 paws, 3 paws, animated, disney, pixar,

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