Inside Out is the newest release from Pixar Animation Studios and Disney. We know the Pixar brand’s penchant for entertaining both children and adults, alike (Up, Monsters Inc, and Cars just to name a few), and they have certainly lived up to their reputation this time around. Inside Out is packed with emotional ups and downs, lovable characters, and an insightful storyline once again. If you didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters this weekend, you will want to make time for the whole family to catch this thought-provoking story.

The film takes place in the mind of eleven year old girl, Riley Anderson. We meet her personified emotions the day she’s born and we come to know them throughout the course of Riley’s childhood. Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness are the various characters who run this show.  Director Pete Docter somehow manages to capture the emotions of a young girl as we watch Riley grow up from a joy-filled toddler to a tween facing adolescent challenges.

The movie is filled with content to unpack in discussions with your own children or with a youth group. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but be prepared for this film to prompt some great conversations about emotions and life.

Conversation Starters.  For Younger Children:

1. What types of things made Riley happy? What makes you happy?

2. What made her sad or angry?  Were some of the things that made her feel this way actually good for her? (The answer to this one is, YES!  Eating broccoli made her upset,  but we know she needs this food to nourish her body. You can use this to talk with children about how our emotions cannot control our decisions.  Even though we may not want to do something, there are certain things in life we must do to maintain a healthy and holy lifestyle.)

3. Can we be happy all the time?  Why or why not? Can we be joyful all the time? Why or why not?

4. In this story, Riley did not know Jesus.  How could Jesus have helped her when she was sad, angry or afraid? What could Riley have done differently if she had known about Jesus?

5. Share about a time when Jesus helped you when you had feelings like Riley.

For Teens:

1. How did this movie help you understand your emotions?  Could you identify with Riley?

2. Riley often let her emotions dictate how she treated the people in her life whom she loves and cares for the most. Did that help or hurt her relationships? How can we avoid that?

3. Riley did not have a faith life in the movie.  How could a relationship with Jesus have helped her handle her emotions and her actions? What could she have done differently?

4. What is the difference between happiness and joy?  Do you think the character Joy discovered that difference in the movie? How can we embrace true joy in the Christian life?

5. Why is it okay to feel sad sometimes? How does that shape who we are and build our character?

Spiritual joy arises from purity of the heart and perseverance in prayer.St. Francis of Assisi