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Inside Out 2 Review

June 14, 2024 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Inside Out 2 Image Credit: Disney, Pixar
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Inside Out 2 Review  

Directed By: Kelsey Mann
Written By: Dave Holstein and Meg LeFauve
Runtime: 96 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated PG for some thematic elements

Amy Poehler – Joy
Maya Hawke – Anxiety
Phyllis Smith – Sadness
Kensington Tallman – Riley Andersen
Lewis Black – Anger
Tony Hale – Fear
Liza Lapira – Disgust
Ayo Edebiri – Envy
Paul Walter Hauser – Embarrassment
Ad̬le Exarchopoulos РEnnui
Diane Lane – Mom
Kyle MacLachlan – Dad
Yvette Nicole Brown – Coach Roberts
Lilimar – Valentina Ortiz
Grace Lee – Grace
Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green – Bree
Ron Funches – Bloofy
Yong Yea – Lance Slashblade

Emotions run wild in the new Pixar animated movie, Inside Out 2. While there has been a nine-year break between films, Inside Out 2 proves to be an exceptional story, hitting all the right notes and serving in the Pixar pantheon as one of the studio’s best-animated entries. Longtime animation veteran Kelsey Man makes his feature directorial debut with Inside Out 2, taking over directing duties from the first film’s Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen. He creates a worthy sequel that lives up to the beloved original film.

Moviegoers will recall that Inside Out is a story about the emotions inside people’s heads, specifically the young Riley Andersen (Tallman). The emotions in Riley’s mind literally come to life, existing as charming anthropomorphized characters. Inside Out 2 features Riley entering her teen years. Things are going well with all her emotions: Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hale), Disgust (Lapira), and Anger (Black), all working in concert with each other as they develop Riley’s belief system, creating her sense of self. However, events massively shift when Riley’s puberty alarm goes off.

Emotion HQ goes into an uproar, with turbulent new emotions joining the group, specifically Anxiety (Hawke), Envy (Edebiri), Embarrassment (Walter Hauser), and Ennui (Exarchopoulos). With Riley about to embark on an intense hockey training camp that could determine the course of her future in high school, Anxiety seeks to assert her control over Emotion HQ. As Anxiety takes over, the other emotions get tossed out of headquarters. Joy must now figure out a way to salvage Riley’s sense of self so Anxiety doesn’t cause any irreversible damage to her psyche.

Inside Out 2 excels in visualizing abstract ideas, transforming thoughts, feelings, and emotions into genuine characters. Director Kelsey Mann and co-writers Dave Holstein and Meg LeFauve utilize these ideas to create a vibrant coming-of-age story for Riley, who experiences conflicting emotions. Thankfully, Inside Out 2 succeeds by not merely rehashing the original story. Despite all the havoc she wreaks upon Riley’s mind, there is something undeniably likable about Anxiety. She’s a lovable bundle of neurosis who merely wants to do her best for Riley. All the emotions want to protect and help Riley in their own way, but the key lies in keeping an emotional balance among the group.

After Anxiety shunts the other emotions out of headquarters, the Mind Police locks them up in Riley’s vault of secrets. From there, they attempt to relocate Riley’s old sense of self from the recesses of her mind, with Joy leading the group on a wild trek through Riley’s mind, across the Stream of Consciousness and Imagination Land. Pixar brings these ideas to life in a thoughtful and visually delightful way. In one sequence, Anxiety sends Idea Central into overdrive, and it resembles an office of overworked animators pushed to their limits. It depicts an uncomfortably ironic, yet sadly appropriate, scenario in light of real-life events surrounding Pixar.

Inside Out2 adeptly taps into the primal human emotions it showcases. The movie brings out those feelings, making it both a figurative and literal emotional journey. Much like Riley, Joy undergoes her emotionally complex journey during her conflict with Anxiety, as Joy herself experiences a complex gamut of emotions. It would be somewhat amusing if the minds of the Emotion characters held their own set of Emotions inside their heads, but that scenario would likely be far too chaotic. It was compelling to see Poehler’s Joy experience justifiable anger and heartbreaking sadness, which act as some of the film’s best moments.

While it has been nine years since the last movie, the gap serves to make the world Inside Out look even more vibrant and immersive with the advances in animation and technology. Mann and the Pixar animation team put the world of Riley’s abstract mind on full display. It’s astounding how Pixar can still manage to one-up itself with successive entries. The transformation of an abstract mind into a wondrous realm brings Inside Out 2 to life.

Besides expressing emotions in such a palpable, poignant fashion, the film is quite hilarious as well. Ennui’s overwhelming boredom quietly steals every scene she’s in. One of Riley’s secrets appears in the form of a character from a popular Super Smash Bros.-like fighting game, Lance Slashblade (Yong Yea). Lance is like a stand-in for Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy, and it’s side-splitting. All the other new emotions are utterly likable, especially poor Embarrassment, who is like a giant puppy, timid around others.

There are some changes among the original cast, with Tony Hale taking over as Fear, previously voiced by Bill Hader, and Liz Lapira now voicing Disgust, portrayed in the first film by Mindy Kaling. The changes are noticeable, but the new voice-acting talents perform skillful and effective work. Fortunately, the other original cast members remain intact, and the returning actors exceptionally voice their characters.

Inside Out 2 runs the gamut of emotions, creating an epic odyssey about growing up and the turbulent emotions young teens exhibit during that process. As far as sequels go, it’s among Pixar’s best work.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Emotions run wild in Inside Out 2, a poignant, hilarious, and emotional journey. Despite some familiar characters and settings, Inside Out 2 doesn't rest on the laurels of the original, and showcases the chaotic emotional process through the mind a young girl entering her teens. Filmmaker Kelsey Mann creates a story that's tearjerking, joyful, and sometimes sad, yet always compelling. Audiences are advised to stay after the credits for an extra scene.