7 best movies like 'Inside Out' to stream right now

The emotions Anger, Disgust,Joy,Fear and Sadness in Inside Out
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Emotions are at the forefront of every coming-of-age journey — real or frictional — and “Inside Out” takes that concept in a pretty literal direction. The 2015 movie centers on pre-teen Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) as she contends with the heightened emotions of a move and the typical highs and lows of general young angst. Pixar and other studios love to feature emotions in tangible and on-the-nose ways in animated films that particularly allow young audiences to grasp these often complicated concepts.

In “Inside Out,” the characters’ emotions run the show behind the scenes and duke it out for how they react to situations. While Riley’s emotions initially start out fairly simple with feelings like Joy and Anger, as she grows up and begins encountering more complex experiences, her emotions adapt and grow along with her — which brings us to “Inside Out 2.” Between movies like “Turning Red” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” here are seven animated coming-of-age movies like "Inside Out" with intense emotional arcs that often manifest in visual ways.


Disney's Encanto | Official Trailer - YouTube Disney's Encanto | Official Trailer - YouTube
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Feeling ostracized in your family isn’t fun, but Mirabel in “Encanto” handles the fact that she’s the only one in her fam without magic powers with grace. Yet despite not having a physical magical gift, her compassion and drive prove to be just as useful as she tries to save the family magic that she never got a piece of. Though each family member’s power isn’t a direct manifestation of their moods, they are intrinsically tied to their respective personalities and passions — between the gift of speaking to animals and the ability to create flowers. However, similar to “Inside Out,” the family’s emotions correlate to their ability to wield their gifts at any given time.

The cast includes names like Stephanie Beatriz (Mirabel), María Cecilia Botero (Abuela Alma), John Leguizamo (Bruno), Mauro Castillo (Félix), Alan Tudyk (Pico), and Diane Guerrero (Isabela). Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith co-wrote and directed the 2021 movie. 

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'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'

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“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is arguably one of the best animated movies in recent years. Instead of focusing on yet another Peter Parker origin story, we follow Miles Morales as he deals with his newfound Spidey powers. He’s not particularly interested in taking up the hero mantle after the death of his world’s Peter, but he eventually caves. Meanwhile, the teenager has to wrap his head around the multiverse when wild iterations of Spidey show up. Can anyone say Peter Porker? Yes, he’s a pig. And yes, he can talk. Moving right along, things get even dicier for Miles when he’s betrayed by a close family member. That’s a lot of drama for one teen. 

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman directed this 2018 movie written by Phil Lord and Rothman. The movie boasts a talented cast, including Shameik Moore (Miles), Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker), Hailee Steinfeld (Gwen Stacy), Mahershala Ali (Uncle Aaron), and Zoë Kravitz (Mary Jane). 

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'Turning Red'

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Ah, puberty metaphors. In “Turning Red,” the 13-year-old protagonist Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang) and her friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (Hyein Park) navigate the trials and tribulations of their transition into becoming angsty teens. The catch? Mei Lee turns into a red panda when she has heightened emotions. Like “Inside Out,” there’s a strong focus on Mei Lee’s relationship with her mom (Sandra Oh).

In Mei Lee’s case, she has to balance her desire of living up to her mother’s expectations and getting a handle on her panda predicament as she finds a middle ground between being the person she wants to be and making her mom proud. “Inside Out” was groundbreaking in some ways, as the 2022 movie doesn’t shy away from on-screen depictions of puberty subjects like periods that aren’t common in animated movies (seriously, how did it take this long and why were people mad in this day and age?). Domee Shi directed the movie, which she co-wrote alongside Julia Cho and Sarah Streicher.

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'Big Hero 6'

Disney's Big Hero 6 - Official US Trailer 1 - YouTube Disney's Big Hero 6 - Official US Trailer 1 - YouTube
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Navigating adolescence is difficult enough when you’re not dealing with the death of a sibling. “Big Hero 6” ups the coming-of-age ante with a powerful emotion-heavy story that centers on the 14-year-old Hiro and his plight to avenge his brother Tadashi by taking down the villain Yokai. As the title might suggest, the young group of six  — including the helper robot Baymax — use their smarts as their superpower during their emotionally fueled plight for justice. 

Don Hall and Chris Williams co-directed the movie written by Jordan Roberts, Robert L. Baird, and Daniel Gerson. The voice cast includes Ryan Potter (Hiro), Scott Adsit (Baymax), Jamie Chung (Go Go), T.J. Miller (Fred), and Daniel Henney (Tadashi).

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Disney and Pixar’s Luca | Official Trailer | Disney+ - YouTube Disney and Pixar’s Luca | Official Trailer | Disney+ - YouTube
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Treading the water of adolescence is difficult enough in one world, let alone two. As for Luca in the self-titled 2021 film, he has to navigate coming-of-age above and below the surface of the ocean. To make matters more stressful, he and his best friend Alberto must keep their identity a secret. Though “Luca” is much more lighthearted than many Pixar movies, the characters are still ruled by their emotions — which often ties into the sea monsters’ process of transforming between their human and scaly selves. 

Director Enrico Casarosa co-wrote the movie with Jesse Andrews and Simon Stephenson. The voice cast includes Jacob Tremblay (Luca), Jack Dylan Grazer (Alberto), Emma Berman (Giulia), and Maya Rudolph (Daniela), 

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'Spirited Away'

SPIRITED AWAY | Official English Trailer - YouTube SPIRITED AWAY | Official English Trailer - YouTube
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Like Riley, the “Spirited Away” protagonist Chihiro isn’t particularly thrilled with her parents’ decision to move. Yet unlike the Andersens, the Ogino family’s move is thrown off course by a magical realm that appears to be a deserted amusement park. Rule number one of entering an unknown magical world is to avoid eating or drinking. Chihiro’s parents didn’t get that memo, leading to their transformation into pigs. 

Without the wisdom of her parents, Chihiro has to navigate this strange world on her own to break her parents’ curse. Naturally, the events of the movie serve as one long life lesson for Chihiro that guides her toward accepting the move. Because, hey, at least her new town won’t turn her parents into pigs (probably). 

Hayao Miyazaki wrote and directed this 2001 movie. The voice cast includes Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Jason Marsden (Haku), Tara Strong (Boh), and Susan Egen (Lin).

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Pixar movies just love to give audiences a gut punch right to the heart. The 2020 movie “Onward” centers on brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) as they journey to resurrect their departed father (Kyle Bornheimer) for a day. While the brothers bond as a family, the teens find magic (real and metaphorical) as they wade through the emotions that come from grief. Ian can’t remember his father, so this closure is particularly important for him to understand where he comes from. The magic wielded in the movie requires a deep understanding of their emotions and believing in themselves — and there’s no crew in their brain to do the work for them. 

Dan Scanlon wrote the movie that he directed alongside Keith Bunin and Jason Headley. The cast also includes Octavia Spencer (The Manticore), Mel Rodriguez (Colt Bronco), Lena Waithe (Officer Spector), and Ali Wong (Officer Gore). 

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Xandra Harbet

Xandra is an entertainment journalist with clips in outlets like Salon, Insider, The Daily Dot, and Regal. In her 6+ years of writing, she's covered red carpets, premieres, and events like New York Comic Con. Xandra has conducted around 200 interviews with celebrities like Henry Cavill, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Driver. She received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Randolph College, where she chilled with the campus ghosts and read Edgar Allan Poe at 3 am.