Film review: Inside Out 2

Riley has now become a teenager and four new emotions have crashed into headquarters to apparently help her through the next ten years of her life. But when anxiety takes control and joy is pushed to back of her mind, what could possibly go wrong?

From the multi-award winning studio of Disney Pixar Animation, who have been responsible for some beautifully creative and successful films such as the ‘Toy Story’ series, ‘Coco’ and ‘Monsters, Inc’, comes the second of what is set to be two highly successful films. Based on the emotional journey of a now 13-year-old girl named Riley, as she hits puberty and through the turbulent journey of being a young teenager in an all-new high school.

Directed this time around by Kelsey Mann instead of Pete Docter who created, wrote and directed the first ‘Inside Out’ film. Originally based on Docter’s “five to 27 emotions” idea, which was shortened down to five core emotions to fully create something coherent and flowing. The first film released in 2015, was a life affirming story that has won the hearts of movie goers around the world bringing in over $850m, as well as many awards including quite rightly, an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

With a stellar cast of voice actors, including the primary emotions of Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and of course Sadness, played superbly by Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale and Phyllis Smith respectively with Bill Hader as Fear and Mindy Kaling as Disgust not returning through pay disputes. Having said that, it really is Poehler as Joy who has the largest and most pivotal role in both amazing films.

Riley, now voiced by Kensington Tallman, with Maya Hawke in her first voice acting role as the scene stealing Anxiety, we also have Envy played by Ayo Edebiri and the duo bounce beautifully off each other. Embarrassment voiced by Paul Walter Hauser, and – brilliantly – Ennui voiced by a positively horizontal in both voice and vocal character Adele Exarchopoulos.

With Riley moving to her new high school, and the chance to go on a senior hockey try out, Riley is left with immense self-doubt and a deep sense of anxiety. With the old and familiar now changing to the new and unknown, Riley must decide how she wants to be seen both by her old friends and the older kids at the tryout. Introducing senior ice hockey captain whiz Valentina “Val” Ortiz, played by another young veteran of the acting world, Lilimar Hernandez. Confident Ortiz is everything that Riley wants to be and in no time begins to shun her old friends, who Riley finds out to her dismay, won’t be going to the same high school as her.


It all kicks off when the new emotions burst onto the scene, force the original quintet to the back of Riley’s mind. While struggling to get back to ‘headquarters’, Joy realises that Anxiety is planning to rip out and rebuild Riley’s ‘self belief tree’, the literal root of what makes Riley who she is. With the old belief tree in hand and time running out, Riley is thrown into emotional changes and forced to make questionable choices, that are shown beautifully through a well thought out and well executed story, that only gets better with each viewing.

From an original story that many people think is near perfect comes an even better film – in my mind – and a far more immersive ride that delves deeper into the emotional rollercoaster of life, and with that an extremely clever and inventive script which goes through Riley’s thought process in real time (so to speak). To ensure the story development was on track, Pixar enlisted the help of nine teenagers dubbed “Riley’s Crew” to provide feedback for accuracy.

With required viewing ideally of Inside Out beforehand, which sets up the rich world perfectly (and currently streaming in 4K on Disney+) ‘Inside Out 2’ expands on Riley’s now highly active teenage mind including a never ending ‘bookcase’ of appropriately coloured stored emotions that visually replicates the seemingly endless curvatures of the brain, through to the back of the mind where all the bad memories are sent to be happily forgotten. ‘Inside Out 2’ goes even harder on the puns, including a ‘stream of consciousness’ of mostly food and thoughts to the back of Riley’s mind, a ‘mind-storm’ of various sized and coloured light bulbs raining down, and a ‘sar-chasm’ that suddenly appears when Riley is trying to act cool in front of her new friends. The film’s writers are clearly having fun with it and indeed highlights even more a brilliant film that never lets go in the best possible way.

During the trip back through Riley’s mind, the others encounter clever nods to characters from the video game world that Riley has an ‘affinity’ for. There’s also some hilarious fourth wall breaking, courtesy of a repressed 2D children’s show and the mysterious… ‘Deep Dark Secret’, which we must never ever speak of! Using 2D animation is almost a jolt during a beautiful 3D animated film such as this, but only helps illustrate just how good the team of animators are. It’s also incredible how advanced Disney Pixar were back in 2015 with an almost seamless visual transition between films.

Inside Out 2 is a joyous, heart-warming film that will undoubtably and quite rightly achieve the same success as its predecessor and will leave people both younger and older wanting for more.





Author: Piers, Maidstone Store

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