Inside Out

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Short takes

Not recommended under 6, parental guidance 6-9 (Themes and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Inside Out
  • a review of Inside Out completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 June 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not recommended due to themes and some disturbing scenes
Children 6-9 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children aged 9 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Inside Out
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length: 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Inside Out is an animated comedy that follows Riley (voice of Kaitlyn Dias), a young girl who is uprooted from her life in the Midwest when her father gets a new job in San Francisco.

Riley is largely guided by her emotions, each of which is shown as an individual character within her own mind: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness (voiced by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling). These emotions reside in a place known as the Headquarters, the control centre of Riley’s mind, and help to advise her during her day-to-day life. Each emotion has a particular purpose. Joy tries to maintain happiness in Riley’s life, Fear keeps her safe, Disgust prevents her from suffering physically and socially, Anger ensures fairness, while Sadness does not believe she has a purpose and stays in the background much of the time.

The film sees Riley endure great difficulties as she attempts to adjust to living her new life. Her emotions try to keep things running smoothly, but it is not until Sadness realises that she serves a very real and important purpose in Riley’s life that things can begin moving in a positive direction.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Emotions; family relationships; personal growth

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is minimal violence within the film, including:

  • A train is derailed and falls into a precipice.
  • Riley’s parents argue and Riley yells at them as a result.
  • Anger’s head bursts into flames whenever he is very angry or upset

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • When characters fall into Riley’s subconscious, the surroundings are dark and frightening.
  • Riley’s imaginary friend disappears and ceases to exist.
  • We see some of Riley’s fears including a scary giant clown and a dead mouse

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes and worried when Riley thinks about running away.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern in the film, but associated merchandise is on sale.

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

  • Insults such as such as ‘shut up’, ‘moron’, ‘dumb’.
  • Anger talks about knowing a swear word, but it is bleeped out when he finally says it.

In a nutshell

Inside Out is an interesting and emotionally intense animated comedy with a complex story. Through the experiences of an 11-year-old girl, the film shows that it is important for a person to experience a full range of emotions – even negative ones such as sadness. They not only allow individuals to appreciate the positive times, but also help to enrich life. Emotions also serve as catalysts for others to provide care and attention, particularly within situations where an individual may not be able to ask for what they need.

The complexity of the story makes it more suited to children aged 9 and over.  Younger children may be confused by references to abstract thoughts and the subconscious, and by emotions being shown as actual characters. There are also some scenes that might scare younger children.  The film is therefore not recommended for children under 6, with parental guidance recommended for the 6 to 9 age group.  

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Although it might be uncomfortable, it is normal to experience emotions such as sadness, anger and hurt.
  • Open communication between individuals (particularly parents and children) is crucial to having good relationships