Inside Out 2 Review

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: 

Pixar returns to form with “Inside Out 2”! We pick up nine years after the original, where Riley is now a teenager. She has a close bond with her friends and has hopes of making the high school hockey team. Her long standing emotions are running smooth, getting ready for the next stage of her life. But when new emotions are brought into her mind, the old emotions must learn to work with them. Anxiety begins taking charge, causing the rest of her emotions to become suppressed. Can the original emotions bring Riley back to center in the most critical stage of her teenage years? 

Positives:

I’ve been a Pixar fan for many years. Their innovation, state of the art animation, and thoughtful storytelling have always resonated with children and adults alike. The past few years have been hit and miss for the studio, but I’m thrilled to report that “Inside Out 2” brings us back to the classic Pixar magic! From beginning to end, I felt the creative rush that encapsulates the Pixar brand. Seeing these characters again was such a treat. I enjoyed learning about their activities over the years and how they are adapting to Riley’s changing persona. The story perfectly introduces the new emotions too, giving audiences a relatable connection to them. Each of the new emotions fits organically into the story, especially Anxiety. Her presence in Riley’s life makes sense as the pressures of life grow and the uncertainty of the future looms. She was the standout of the new characters. It was clever on the writers part to make the film a bit chaotic with the new emotions coming into play. As teenagers, everyone can relate to the fact that emotions crowd the mind…creating a fluctuation of feelings and new thoughts never experienced before. Pixar yet again brings a fruitful discussion to the table, this time about the crazy teenage years. So clever on their part! 

The voice acting is top notch too. Just like the first film, Amy Poehler brings an infectious positive energy as Joy. Her leadership in Riley’s mind is challenged by Anxiety, testing her resolve and leadership abilities. The conflicting emotions that go up and down are perfectly displayed when Riley is interacting with her new friends. She is trying to fit in and avoid embarrassment. This gives way for other emotions such as Envy and Embarrassment to enter the picture. As Riley’s life gets more complex, so do her emotions. Maya Hawke’s portrayal of Anxiety wonderfully captures the nature of the character. Her performance is the standout amongst the new characters. I also love the animation style!  It’s so colorful, creative, and whimsical. Each emotion’s color and style represent the emotion Riley is experiencing. I’ve always enjoyed that the “Inside Out” movies are able to simplify these messages. Kids can relate while adults will also remember when they had these experiences. The emotional resonance audiences will have when watching the film is undeniable. As expected, there are some emotional sequences that may tug at the heartstrings. The story is executed in a way that continues to innovate in the animation department while remembering to tell a worthwhile story. Well done Pixar! 

Negatives:

The film is a fun time all around, but I don’t think it hits every note with a perfect tune. While the chaotic nature of Riley’s mind was conveyed well, the first half of the film moves at a breakneck pace. Luckily the story finds its footing in the second half, I just wish we were able to process the events that were happening better. It seemed like we were playing catchup just to see where Riley is in life. That’s okay too, but the film could have benefitted by slowing down a bit. I also found the sequence where the emotions were locked up to be a weaker part of the story. The idea of suppressed emotions was clever, but the other characters that make an appearance in this scene were pretty forgettable. I also felt like Disney was force feeding us with some of their D.E.I. initiatives with the makeup of the hockey team. Luckily this didn’t take away from the story but it certainly seemed forced. 

Conclusion: 

“Inside Out 2” is a wonderfully creative film that captures the magic from the classic Pixar movies. The story progresses organically and avoids sequelitis, creating some great new characters and expanding the story in a relatable way. This is a great excuse for families to get out to the theaters and see this together. I think it will initiate some important conversations between parents and their children. As life continues to change this will be a great conversation starter for them. Get the whole gang together and see this one in theaters! Pixar has another winner here.