Can I Bring my 5 Year Old to Pixar’s Inside Out? A Parent’s Guide.

Can I Bring my 5 Year Old to Pixar’s Inside Out? A Parent’s Guide.

Pixar’s newest offering, Inside Out arrives in theaters today.  It’s a Pixar film, so you know it’s going to be good and you know you can take your kids. But (like its Pixar predecessors) it is fraught with emotion (that’s kinda the whole point), tension and peril.  So, as a parent, what should you be aware of before taking your kids to see Inside Out?


Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else. When Riley’s family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind— taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.

Inside Out is really original.  The way the film handle the abstract concepts of feelings, consciousness and memory is pretty novel, but may be harder for younger viewers to understand.  Riley’s parents constantly ask her to be their “happy girl” though she is understandably feeling big emotions about moving away from her friends and hobbies.  It’s worth discussing with your kids the kind of pressure those expectations put on Riley, and how it’s resolved.  As the parent of a kid (Nate) who tends to be bit more morose (and as former pubescent girl myself) I really loved the way Sadness was represented as a confused being who didn’t know why she existed and how she eventually figured out that she was needed. Inside Out could be an excellent conversation starter for kids around Kit’s age (8/2nd grade) as they are just starting to feel some more subtle emotions like jealousy, loyalty and frustration, while still not quite understanding the purpose of those emotions or how to express them.

There are a few moments that might make me think twice about bringing the youngest kids.  Some of the characters fall into a deep, dark pit with memories that are going to fade (Small but important to read spoiler here for families with emotionally sensitive kids: one of the characters fades away – sacrifices their self -in this pit).  Riley runs away from home which causes the audience a lot of tension.  Riley’s fears are shown including a dead rat and a giant clown, which may freak kids out.

From a scientific standpoint it’s clear that the production team has done their homework on the psychology of feelings.  It’s a good, kid-friendly introduction to complex concepts like feelings and memories, but it’s no way scientifically accurate in representing how those things work in a real, neurological sense (as cool as it would be to have an actual Train of Thought…)

All told it’s a fantastic, positive story.  It’s charming, perfectly cast (Of course Lewis Black is anger!) and has enough moments of humor to balance out the tears. Parents will definitely want to bring some tissues.  While Kit  teared up a few times, I was an unapologetic, sobbing mess at least twice.  The movie was developed when director Pete Docter’s teenage daughter was starting to experience some of the same big feelings Riley is, and the movie is definitely written from a parent’s point of view.  It’s tender and touching…and it will probably make you cry.

So, “Can I bring my 5 year old to Inside Out”? I’d say yes, and that even younger kids would enjoy this one with adult guidance.  Inside Out would be really beneficial for older kids to see.  Riley is 11 when the movie starts and I think her experiences will really resonate with kids ages 11-14.

I had the chance to see this movie a few weeks ago at a special screening at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was able to interview director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera in conjunction with this special screening.  Check back tomorrow, when I’ll post the interview – and the dorky photo I asked them to pose for!



Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!


Tomorrow (FCBD is always the first Saturday in May) is Free Comic Book Day!  If you are in Seattle you should totally stop by Arcane Comics and More in Ballard Shoreline.  Not only is it a great shop, with a great selection of  kids’ titles, but Parenting Geekly will once again be hosting a table of activities for kids.  We’ll be there from 10 am until 4 PM with a coloring contest and free balloon swords!  Stop by, say hello and pick up some comics!

If you’re not in the Seattle area, you can find a participating retailer at the Free Comic Book Day website here: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/


Super-Dad checks out the Steampunk Bible after choosing his free comics.

One of my favorite parts of Free Comic Book Day is hanging out at the comic shop is seeing people come in to get their first comic books.  I love introducing new people to awesome comics and I encourage you to use Free Comic Book Day as a non-intimidating, no  cost way  to check out current offerings.  That being said, after seven years of watching newbies nervously creep into the shop I have a few words of advice:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask where the free comics are.  We know why you’re there, don’t be embarrassed. It’s a fun day for us and we want you to find all the cool free stuff!
  • Respect limits. Comic shops have to pay for the free comics they give out.  Most stores have a limit of two or three free titles.  If there’s a fourth comic you are dying to check out or if you are planning on making a purchase in the store it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can grab an extra, but be reasonable.
  • Make sure the comics you are getting are actually free.  This is pretty easy since they are all marked with a big blue “Free Comic Book Day” logo. Also, show the cashier what you are taking before you leave. My local shop had the free books on one side of rack and graphic novels on the other side.  An embarrassing moment with a customer would have been avoided had he checked with someone at the shop before trying to leave with a $30 copy of Blankets.  Also, if something is marked $30, there’s a good chance they aren’t giving it away.
  • Check out the stuff for sale.  We know you came for free books, and we’re totally cool with that, but if you take a minute to see what your local shop has to offer you may be pleasantly surprised.  Arcane carries toys, collectibles, trading card games, clothing and whole bunch of other stuff you never knew you needed.  You don’t have to buy anything on Free Comic Book Day, but it’s a great opportunity to get to know what the shops in your neighborhood offer for the next time you have a little spending money.
  • If your store is hosting a special guest, talk to them!  Comic book creators are usually super excited to talk about what they’ve done.  If you haven’t heard of them, ask them what their book is about, they are there to talk about it!

I hope this post has inspired you to find a comic retailer near you on Free Comic Book Day!  Come back here on Saturday and let me know what books you picked up in the comment section!

Parent Guide – Avengers: Age of Ultron (or, is Avengers 2 Appropriate for kids?)

Parent Guide – Avengers: Age of Ultron (or, is Avengers 2 Appropriate for kids?)

I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron at a press screening last night. I watched with an eye towards the question I’m always asked when these superhero movies come out: “Can I bring my 6 year old to Avengers: Age of Ultron” (Seriously, six is the age that brings the most search inquires to my site for every movie).  I totally get it, one of the reasons that I started this site was because I couldn’t find parent guides that fit my family’s needs (nerds with nerd kids who were probably a little more liberal with the content they let their kids view in that context than many mainstream parents would be). Parents want to know if the superheroes their kids adore in print and on the small screen translate to an age-appropriate big screen experience.

So, with that in mind, this isn’t a critical review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, – you’ll find tons of those all over the internet –  but a parents’ guide written with geeky parents in mind.

So, is Avengers: Age of Ultron appropriate for kids?  Here are some of the things you might want to keep in mind:

Sensory issues –There is a lot of action, it’s almost non-stop.  If you have a kid that experiences sensory issues, it may be a bit much.  Super-Dad and I saw it in 3D, I have vision issues, and found the fast moving fight scenes painful to watch in a few instances and removed my glasses.  I don’t see 3D, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything, so if you think this could be a problem for your child you may want to opt for a traditional 2D viewing.

Violence –  There is a lot of violence, though blood and gore is minimal.  The violence can be pretty intense, as it affect children, other civilians and characters we know.  There is a prominent death scene that may be upsetting for some viewers.



Language – There is a fair amount of mild swearing (damn, hell, ass), and one utterance of “shit”.  The other characters make fun of Captain America throughout the entire run time for protesting the use of bad language by his teammates.

Sexual Content – Avengers: Age of Ultron probably has the most sexual innuendo of any of the Marvel films to date.  From an abundance of racy one liners (which will more than likely go over most younger viewers’ heads) to an actual sexual relationship, which is more than hinted at, but not shown, I found it to be a bit risque.  For the most part sexual content of this nature isn’t really an issue for our family, but there is probably enough here to make less permissive families a bit uncomfortable.

Scary and emotional Content – There is definitely a creep factor to the main villain, Ultron.  He is a sarcastic robot. made by Tony Stark, who is bent on destroying humanity.  He repeatedly sings “I”ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio in a menacing way, which may be upsetting.


Also creepy!

Scarlet Witch causes other characters to hallucinate, and some of those scenes are dark and a bit scary.

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver talk about the violent death of their parents in a war.  The story of their survival in a war zone is also discussed and is pretty emotional.

It’s also worth noting (and this may be a small spoiler if you are unfamiliar with Iron Man’s Hulk-Busting armor and therefore didn’t extrapolate this from the previews) that the Hulk rampages pretty hard at one point, putting many civilian lives at risk.  This results in a pretty brutal duel between the Hulk and Iron Man.  Young Hulk fans may find this hard to understand.

Things I love and that I think would be great talking points for kids;

Teamwork – The first Avengers movie really highlighted a group of individuals who were had different moral values, work ethic and life stories coming together to work as a team.  This is still a major part of the plot, with the characters differences causing the major conflict in the film.

Second chances – The current Avengers also embrace several new members in this film, allowing some of them to redeem themselves by joining the team.

Strong female characters –  Black Widow plays a much more prominent role in this movie, which was great to see. Maria HIll is also back, and a new addition to the cinematic universe, Dr. Helen Cho, uses one of her own inventions to save an injured Avenger.



Final Thoughts and recommendations –  We are having reservations about bringing Kitty, who is eight.  She is really looking forward to seeing it, so if we take her we will talk to her about some of the things she will see beforehand.  I would say that this one is definitely better for ages ten and up and possibly even older if your child is especially sensitive.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is rated PG-13 and opens in theatres everywhere on May 1.

For some Avengers Coloring Pages click here.