Why The Movie Inside Out Is Your ‘Free’ Therapy

If you haven’t had the chance to see the new Disney and Pixar movie, Inside Out, you need to get to your nearest cinema now!


Don’t worry – you don’t need to drag your snotty-baby niece or nephew with you, because when I went, I was probably the youngest audience member there *sniggers*. This film is actually made for adults, regardless of the other Disney films ever made.

The movie is quite a tricky one to explain, especially if you haven’t seen it – but in a nutshell: Inside Out is about the emotions (little minion people) inside a young girl’s mind.

I know – I’m really not selling this movie, but honest to god, this film is epic! Not only do we see the life of a little girl, called Riley, play-out from the outside, we also see what her emotions go through on the inside.

Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Disgust all play massive parts in to why Riley behaves like she does. The minions take it in turns to ‘operate’ Riley. Ultimately Joy (the happy emotion) works hard to keep everything together, but occasionally Sadness, Fear and Anger can’t help themselves but interrupt. Each emotion have a vital role: Fear assesses risk and keeps us away from danger. Anger makes sure we stand up for ourselves when things are unjust. Disgust keeps us from being poisoned, physically or socially, and Sadness is, usually, a cry for help.

The film starts with Joy describing Riley’s idyllic life, which is suddenly shaken up when her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Throughout the film we are taken on a journey focusing on the developing mind of a girl having to learn about change, empathy, and letting things go.

During the film we are introduced to Riley’s long-term memories, some sad, and some happy. We also see her forgotten fears (Grandma’s hoover) and her long-lost imaginary friend, Bing Bong, who was abandoned along the way. Typical Pixar – it’s everything we can all relate to.

Watching the film was like one of my therapy sessions – it opens up so many doors as to why we behave the way we do. We are emotional creatures, not logical. We only behave like we do because of how we feel. We learn to grow-up by realising that we have to let go of the things that we once loved. Change happens and (sadly) we can’t be happy all of the time and what the film demonstrates so well, is, that’s OK.

Here are two of my favourite quotes from the film, that just, well, kill me.


“I Know You Don’t Want Me To, But I Miss Home. I Miss Minnesota. You Need Me To Be Happy, But I Want My Old Friends, And My Hockey Team. I Wanna Go Home. Please Don’t Be Mad”

At the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT) Riley tells her parents that although she would like to be happy for the changes in her life, she just can’t. The tear jerker bit comes when her parents comfort her and assure her that they too miss those times. Riley’s Dad: We’re not mad. You know what? I miss Minnesota too. I miss the woods, where we took hikes. Riley’s Mom: And the backyard, where you used to play.


“Take Her To The Moon For Me, OK?”

Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, is introduced half way through the film, and although you’re not totally sure whether he’s a bad or good guy, you soon learn that he is actually, incredibly lovely. I won’t give too much away. Who am I kidding? SPOILER ALERT – there is a poignant scene where he helps a couple of the emotions to complete their mission. Throughout his part he lightly hints how he misses Riley and that he begrudges her for growing up. But come the end, he finally accepts his fate and sacrifices his life for Riley to grow up.


The film is great at teaching us about our basic emotions but if you’re as goony as I am, here are some psychology facts from the film that might interest you:

It’s not five basic emotions that actually exist.

Ekman’s foundational research, noted a sixth universal emotion: surprise. Yet recent studies argue that only four basic emotions exist, regardless of culture and language.

Yes, an emotion is always (supposed to be) manning the control center. 

Inside Out puts Joy in charge of Riley by default, but experts note that each person’s natural-born temperament is not necessarily optimistic.

Internal Chaos.

While Joy and Sadness are lost in other parts of the mind, Fear, Anger and Disgust are in a state of panic. This actually is an appropriate depiction of what can happen during a traumatic experience or a major life event.

Anyway, I’m losing the plot over this film. Please go see it! If you have already, let me know what you think. I doubt you’re obsessed as I am – but always good to hear what everyone else thinks. xxx

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