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"Inside Out": Catholic Family Movie Night

Updated: Mar 22

Inside Out: A Catholic Guide to Discussing Emotions and Faith with Your Family

Join us for an “Inside Out” Catholic movie night! This month, our Catholic Family Movie Night (CFMN) pick is Disney’s Inside Out.


Here is a review on common sense media. Please read through it if you need some reassurance before showing this movie to your family. The suggested age is 6 and up but our 5yo twins loved it.



Why “Inside Out?” The Perfect Catholic Movie for Lent

Lent is not a feel-good season. It’s a season that embraces less popular feelings like sadness and suffering. Lent reminds us that death is necessary for the Resurrection, just like Sadness is often necessary for true Joy.


Inside Out beautifully illustrates that negative emotions such as sadness, anger, and fear have an important place within intimate and loving relationships.  And Catholics know this is especially true in our relationship with Jesus. 


As we see in the movie, Sadness and other negative emotions are unavoidable. But Christians know that because of the Cross, these negative emotions and suffering have much value.




Before the Movie: Family Discussion Questions

Before you start the movie, here are some questions to help you reflect on the themes with your family.

  • Do you think sadness is a good or bad thing? Why?

  • Do you think joy is the most important feeling in our life?

  • Do you think joy or sadness is more important (or are they both important?)

  • In our family, do we allow you to be sad? Or do we urge you to put on a happy face?



Inside Out’s Catholic Themes & Teachings(Parents, please read ahead so you’re prepared for the movie):

In the opening scene, we see the main character, Riley, as a newborn. At this point, all the child knows is Joy. I am reminded of Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, the famous letter about love. We all know it; “Love is patient, love is kind…” 


But in verse 11, St. Paul says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 


When we begin our spiritual lives, often we see God as a loving, cozy grandpa or a genie that grants wishes. We sing Bible songs like “Jesus Loves Me.” All those things are good, but there is a level of intimacy with God that only comes through suffering. As we mature in our spiritual life, our experience of the Lord becomes more complex. 


We realize that life is difficult, and even though we prayed for something, we didn’t get it. We eventually learn God is not a genie and that He is more than a loving grandpa. 


We learn that often, God makes his presence known in a powerful way THROUGH suffering. When we stop fighting suffering and embrace our cross, our reward is often Joy.


This is why the season of Lent is so important. It’s our opportunity to embrace our cross. 


Beyond "Good Vibes Only": What "Inside Out" Teaches Us About Authentic Spirituality

During the first part of Inside Out, we see Joy trying to maintain only the Joyful moments and trying to keep Sadness away from ruining everything. Joy even says the following about Sadness, “I’m not sure what she does, but we can’t get rid of her.”


And we see this at times in our faith lives. People may at times leave churches because “It didn’t make me feel good.” Often, we seek out religion so we can feel better about ourselves. Pastors will often choose the “feel good” scriptures to preach on. We aren’t embracing the cross, or sadness in our lives.


About 46 minutes into the movie, Riley gets upset with her mom for telling her it will be alright. Riley is upset her family is not making room for that sadness, nor allowing themselves to mourn their old town.



During the Movie: Pause & Discuss the Healing Power of Pain

At 47 minutes in, PAUSE the movie.

The next five minutes are very important. Sadness models an incredible way to love others. Tell your kids to watch how Sadness speaks to Bing Bong, and press play again.


At minute 50, PAUSE the movie again. 

Ask your family what Sadness did that was so good.


Then read the following aloud to your family:

Bing Bong witnessed so many good things about Riley being erased, and he began to mourn the plans he had. 

Joy wanted to distract him with tickles, or fix things and avoid getting sad, but it didn’t work and Bing Bong remained sad. 


Then, Sadness spoke the truth of the situation to him and “made room” for his sadness. 

She enters into his sadness too and they both cry. They are honest about the sadness, suffering, loss and mourning of the situation. After they both cry, Bing Bong says, “I’m ok now.”’

Now ask your family the following discussion questions:


During the Movie: Family Discussion Questions

  • What can we learn from Sadness about how to treat one another in this family?

  • What’s the most difficult thing we have gone through as a family?

  • Did we allow one another to be sad for a time?

  • Did we lean on one another? Do we feel closer to one another after?

Continue watching the rest of the movie.


How Suffering Deepens Our Relationship with God

Every open and honest relationship needs to allow suffering. It’s painful to know our shortcomings, but when we are weak, God can be strong. 


One of the most difficult times in my life had to do with pregnancy loss and mourning our unborn children. A different type of difficulty was the opposite: learning to raise twin babies. Both times, I sought the Lord and his presence. 


The suffering of mourning the loss of my babies and the suffering of not sleeping and being pushed beyond my limit both made me reach out and cling to Jesus and not let go. I was dependent on His Word, on his presence, on his love, mercy and faithfulness.


Only suffering created that level of need for God in my life. 


An hour and 19 minutes into Inside Out, Joy says to Sadness, “Riley needs you.” 

Joy admits that in order for Joy to come back into Riley’s life, Sadness needs to make a way. This is the power of the Paschal Mystery at work. Through suffering and death, God can resurrect!


After the Movie: Follow-Up Questions & Comments:

  • As we go through lent, we may find it difficult to listen to stories about Jesus’ suffering. Do you ever want to skip over the sad parts of the Paschal Mystery (His Passion, Death, and Resurrection), and just focus on the resurrection?

  • During Lent, we hear stories about Jesus hurting and it can be sad. It’s ok that it makes you sad. Take some time and be sad with God. But remember, it doesn’t stay sad. Resurrection is coming. Romans 6:8 “But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

  • After watching this movie, what do you think about sadness and suffering now?

  • Do you see how God doesn’t want us to be sad or to suffer, but because suffering and sadness are unavoidable, He can make something good come from it?

  • Is there anything you are sad about or are suffering from that you have been ignoring?

  • Have you ever seen God take something sad or bad and turn it into something good? Tell us about it. 

We pray you and your family have a blessed time growing closer to one another and to God during this month’s CFMN! If you enjoyed it, please share!




Inside Out’s Closing Line: Look Out, Here Comes Puberty

The last line of the movie is hilarious! “Riley’s 12 now, what could happen?” 

Puberty is what! We all know puberty happens around that age and how the emotions take an even more complex turn.


If you have a daughter between ages 8 - 13, I wrote a book called Bloom that helps moms and daughters discuss what our Catholic Faith has to say about puberty, femininity, beauty and more. Check it out if you haven’t already! 


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