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Inside Out 2 (2024)

-Written by Kyle Bain.

Inside Out 2 is the follow up to the 2015 Disney/Pixar film Inside Out, a film that took the world by storm and allowed adults (and kids) to access their emotions in a new and interesting way. In this sequel Riley (Kensington Tallman) is thirteen, she’s just hit puberty, and she’s on her way to high school. As you can imagine, a slew of new emotions, including Anxiety (Maya Hawke) and Envy (Ayo Edebiri), take over. It’s now up to Joy (Amy Poehler) and her friends to right the ship that is Riley and bring balance to a struggling young girl. 

I didn’t care for Inside Out; I found it to be a tad boring and, hot take, Bing Bong (Richard Kind) was a useless, forgettable character. With that said, I had heard nothing but good things about Inside Out 2, and I was hoping that, much like Joy, Disney and Pixar would fix the problems of their 2015 animated film. Oh boy, were those reviews right! I can’t say enough about this beautiful film, one that has the potential to reach all viewers (even the weird guy all by himself in the back of the theater, surrounded by children and their parents. FYI, that was me). I laughed out loud on numerous occasions, and the character that I wish I had loved nine years ago, Anger (Lewis Black), was just about perfect in this film. He warmed my heart, he made me laugh, and he’s everything that I wish he could have been in the initial film in this series. 

As much as I loved Black in this film, and as brilliant as both Poehler and Hawke were throughout, the star of the show is Phyllis Smith (Sadness). I don’t remember Sadness playing such a prominent role in the first film, but here she shines so brightly. Not only does she keep pace with the film’s leads through most of Inside Out 2, there are times when the voice-acting talent of Smith surpasses what the others are capable of achieving. Unlike some other characters where they are afforded the opportunity to branch out and experience unique emotions of their own, Smith is pigeonholed to a degree–only ever able to experience sadness. She finds ways to manipulate her lines and become more than what the character may initially dictate, all while existing within the parameters of what Director Kelsey Mann and the rest of the Disney/Pixar cast expected from her. 

The set design of Inside Out 2 is simple, and I feel that this is done as a way to highlight the characters, rather than seeing them fade into the background. Don’t get me wrong, the attention to detail is there in every facet of the film, and very little (if anything) is left to the imagination. If you’ve ever seen anything developed by Disney or Pixar in the past, then you know what to expect, and Inside Out 2 is that caliber of film. Developing such a simple animated set is essential to the film’s success–as I felt something of a disconnect back in 2015 when I first watched Inside Out. The characters didn’t resonate with me, they didn’t reach out and touch me like I had hoped–but Inside Out 2 sees this issue rectified, and much of that has to do with how Mann and her brilliant team of animators brought Riley’s mind to life. 

I wanted to feel a connection to these characters, and, weirdly enough, I wanted them to bring me near to tears. One of my favorite Disney films is Encanto–and that’s because I cry each and every time that I watch it. The connection that I have with those characters is wondrous, and it never fades. I felt something akin to that in Inside Out 2. While I didn’t ugly cry in the theater, surrounded by a bunch of judgemental little weirdos, I was close. Anxiety, Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear (Tony Hale), and the rest of the gang reached out and grabbed me–refusing to let me go for the duration of the film. 

Inside Out 2 starts quickly and sustains that fast pace throughout its duration. It ropes you in within the first thirty seconds of the film, and it won’t let you go. Inside Out 2 is a truly wonderful film that will entertain children and become increasingly accessible to adults as it progresses. I thought this over and over again throughout my time in the theater, and I’ve concluded that Inside Out 2 is the best Disney-related film since Encanto. If you disagree, you’re wrong. 

Directed by Kelsey Mann. 

Written by Meg LaFauve, Dave Holstein, & Kelsey Mann. 

Starring Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Ayo Edebiri, Lilimar, Grace Lu, Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paul Walter Hauser, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ron Funches, James Austin Johnson, etc. 



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