Like most Pixar films, Inside Out deserves multiple viewings to appreciate the artistry at work — and also appreciate all the sly Easter eggs, in-jokes, and references the creators crammed in.
“It’s fun to see how much you can actually spot in there,” co-director Ronnie Del Carmen told us, admitting that even he doesn’t catch them all.
After multiple viewings we’ve still spotted our fair share. Before you go back this weekend, take a look at the list below and see how many you can find — and chime in via the comments if you discover any that we missed.
Beware, spoilers below.
Let’s start with the memory spheres. The orbs in Headquarters and stacked on the shelves of Long Term Memory contain a plethora of callbacks to other Pixar films. There are images of Carl and Ellie from the beginning Up tucked away in some balls. Riley’s favorite Minnesota playground is the same model as Toy Story 3’s Sunnyside Day Care, with a different slide.
And while we didn’t spy it ourselves, the Pixar Wiki site claims that the Pizza Planet truck, perhaps the most well-known Pixar Easter egg having appeared in all the studio’s films except The Incredibles, can be seen in a memory ball at the moment Joy and Sadness meet Bing Bong.
(Both director Pete Docter and co-director Del Carmen say that there are other instances of the Pizza Planet truck in the film — we’re thinking it turns up in a background scene in San Francisco, a city that has otherwise ruined pizza.)
During their drive San Francisco, Riley’s family passes birds on a telephone wire from Pixar’s 2000 short film “For the Birds.”
They make a pit stop at a roadside attraction, where the family car gets impaled by a dinosaur tail. The dinos include Arlo from Pixar’s next film, The Good Dinosaur.
A magazine on the table in the family’s San Francisco apartment features chef Colette from Ratatouille on the cover.
Riley’s classroom is loaded with Pixar references. First off, the classroom’s number is A113, a reference to the CalArts animation classroom where several members of the Pixar brain trust, including Docter and John Lasseter, studied, and probably the most prolific Easter egg in Pixar films. In fact, there are at least two other instances in Inside Out where we spotted the number: when Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong hop the train, they wind up in a box car numbered 113; later, when Riley is running away, she passes by some “A113” graffiti on a building.
There’s a globe in Riley’s classroom (and later in the Headquarters of Riley’s teacher) that’s a callback to Andy’s globe, which appears in all three Toy Story films.
A couple other Toy Story allusions in the school: one of the cool girls in Riley’s class has black-and-white skull T-shirt that’s the inverse of the one worn by the toy-torturing Sid; another student has a camo shirt whose pattern is made up of Toy Story characters.
There’s a poster in the classroom that features the star-herding child from the short film “La Luna” that ran in front of Brave.
You’ve seen those Chinese food containers before. The same brand box first appeared in A Bug’s Life in the circus, and subsequently surfaced in Toy Story 2, Ratatouille, and Monsters, Inc.
Imagination Land features a collection of board games based on Pixar productions. One called Dinosaur World recalls The Toy Story That Time Forgot TV special (or perhaps is another nod to The Good Dinosaur?) and there’s a game that has “Find Me” printed on one side a picture of a Nemo-like fish on the other (a double nod to Finding Nemo and its upcoming sequel, Finding Dory).
After Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong wreak havoc through Imagination Land, two cops are seen questioning a woman made of clouds and drop an awesome Chinatown reference. Cop No. 1: “You’re saying your husband was blown away by an elephant?” Then the cloud lady IDs Bing Bong and gets blown away too. Says Cop No. 2: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Cloudtown.”
The striped rubber ball from the pioneering Pixar short “Luxo Jr.” has appeared in most of the studio’s features; we’re pretty sure Bing Bong and Riley played with the ball in a flashback scene, but there is also unconfirmed chatter online suggesting Riley has a sticker of the ball’s red star on her bag.
The smashed castle in Dream World is a dead-ringer for Sleeping Beauty’s castle on the Disney logo — and presumably a subtle reference to Riley outgrowing her Disney Princess phase.
Dream Productions, the studio where Riley’s dreams (and nightmares) are made, features a pair of giant legs against wall that are straight out of Monsters, Inc. (They belong to Ted.)
A movie poster on the Dream Productions wall, titled I’m Falling Into a Very Dark Pit, spoofs the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo.
Riley’s nightmares are haunted by a dead rat that sure looks a lot like Remy, the lead rodent of Ratatouille, and features a snippet of the song “Grim, Grinning Ghosts,” the tune that plays in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
Riley’s hockey rink in San Francisco has dual significance. First, it’s situated in the exact location in the Presidio as the Walt Disney Family Museum. Second, according to the banner hanging inside, it’s also situated in Tri-County, the same fictional Northern California locale of Toy Story 3 — Woody, Buzz, and crew are nearly toasted at the Tri-County Landfill.
The background city vehicles of San Francisco pay homage to Cars.
Finally, designated Pixar good-luck charm John Ratzenberger has what is probably his smallest cameo yet, as Fritz, one of the workers who helps rebuild the control panel in Headquarters at the very end of the movie.
Now tell us what we missed. Happy Easter egg hunting!