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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Inside Out 2 (2024) - Navigating New Emotions

Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5/5 Stars)

Released 06-14-2024

Watched 06-15-2024

Reviewed 06-17-2024

Watched in the theater Using Cinemark Movie Club

"Of course I'm delusional! Do you know how hard it is to stay positive all the time? When all you folks do is complain, complain, complain!"

Directed by Kelsey Mann in his feature directorial debut and produced by Mark Nielsen, Inside Out 2, the sequel to the beloved 2015 film Inside Out, continues to explore the complex world inside Riley Andersen's mind. The screenplay, written by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein, and a story conceived by Mann and LeFauve, delves deeper into Riley's emotions, introducing new characters and challenges.

Some of the original cast, including Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan, return to reprise their roles, joined by new voices such as Tony Hale, Liza Lapira, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Paul Walter Hauser, and Kensington Tallman.

The story picks up two years after Riley's move to San Francisco. Now 13 and about to enter high school, Riley's personified emotions—Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust—are joined by new emotions: Envy, Embarrassment, Ennui, and Anxiety. As Riley navigates the challenges of adolescence, these new emotions bring fresh dynamics to her internal world. The plot focuses on Riley's weekend hockey camp and the internal struggle between Joy, who wants Riley to have fun, and Anxiety, who is fixated on success and fitting in.

When Anxiety attempts to take control, Riley's internal balance is thrown into chaos, leading to a series of emotional and external conflicts. The resolution comes as the original emotions learn to integrate the new emotions, forming a more complex and nuanced Sense of Self for Riley, culminating in a heartfelt and triumphant conclusion.

Inside Out 2 masterfully builds on the foundation of its predecessor, offering a rich, emotionally resonant experience that speaks to both children and adults. The introduction of new emotions like Anxiety and Envy adds depth and realism to Riley's journey, making her struggles and triumphs even more relatable.

Kelsey Mann's direction is impressive, bringing a fresh yet faithful continuation of the story. The screenplay by LeFauve and Holstein strikes a perfect balance between humor and poignancy, capturing early adolescence's turbulent yet transformative period.

We watched in an XD theater, which highlighted Pixar's signature animation quality, elevating the vibrant world inside Riley's mind. The sound design and score complement the visuals beautifully, creating an immersive experience that enhances the story's emotional impact.

The voice cast delivers outstanding performances, with Amy Poehler and Maya Hawke standing out as Joy and Anxiety. Their dynamic interplay drives much of the film's emotional weight, capturing the complexities of growing up and finding one's identity.

While Inside Out 2 excels in many areas, it may be less accessible for very young children. The themes of anxiety, self-doubt, and the quest for identity are more complex and may not be fully grasped by kids under 10. However, the film is a powerful exploration of emotional growth and resilience for tweens, teens, and adults. It is so spot-on for the age group that starts in the last year of middle school and early high school (12-15) that it should be required for viewing for that age group. It could also play as a PSA for students facing anxiety.

Inside Out 2 is a must-watch for fans of the original film and newcomers alike. Its insightful exploration of adolescence and Pixar's stunning animation and heartfelt storytelling make it a standout sequel. If you love Inside Out, go see it. If you have kids who love the first one, go see it with them. If you have kids who have never seen the first one, watch that, then go see it. Or even if you don't have kids, go see it.

This is already a blockbuster after just one weekend. This summer will prove to be the summer that Pixar returns to the king of the Box office.

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