Inside Out 2 Divalicious Review: Teen Growing Pains Have Never Been Brainier

By   |   June 13, 2024   |   Entertainment

Have you ever had a moment where you stuffed an unpleasant memory at the back of your head? Ever crammed an embarrassing incident among the other shames? You’ve been there and done that. Inside Out 2 is here to remind you that what happens in your head stays in your head—and perhaps integrates into a part of your messy whole.

The original Inside Out was a Pixar stand-alone film that wasn’t crying out for a sequel. In this demand for originality against IP-dependency, it’s a more than valid concern especially as many original Pixar films had their box office prospects screwed over by early pandemic-era streaming.

Luckily, as a movie, Inside Out 2 makes its own case by tracking the first stages of teenhood of its child protagonist, Riley (Kensington Tallman). The director now is Kelsey Mann, while the original director, Pete Docter, is a producer.

The Inside Out Emotions are back. Only, this time there are new complex emotions in the menagerie. The veteran Emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Liza Lapira) and Fear (Tony Hale) are befuddled by a new dissenter, Anxiety (Maya Hawke), designed like a background Muppet. Anxiety is carrying a crusade to mold Riley into her Best Self.

Other Emotions squeeze their way into the Headquarters: Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos, weaponizing Frenchness with a vengeance), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) and Envy (Ayo Edebiri).

Determined to control Riley’s fate, Anxiety ejects the veteran Emotions from Headquarters to enact her well-intentioned but messy plans. As you can guess, Riley’s tumbling transition into teenhood is a series of haywire incidents when she goes to hockey camp and becomes too determined to prove herself.

The abstractions of ideas are clever ones dreamed up by the Pixar team and the screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein. The first new development is that as Riley grows, her memories form the thread of her ideas and then as her sense of Self—visualized as a crystalized flower at Headquarters. As Riley matures, her sense of Joy fades from her captain role, but this doesn’t mean that Joy is removed entirely. 

If there’s a complaint I had, with the same applied to its predecessor film, Inside Out 2 can get bogged down by the fussiness of his voice direction (yes, chattery thoughts are realistically stuffy and grating, but in a direction-wise sense, sometimes it compromises the audibility of its dialogue).

Watching it at age 30, Inside Out 2 does err into a simplistic lens on girlhood (an expert on YA may have been able to punch up the screenplay). But the ideas in Inside Out 2 are still flowing through the stream of consciousness. As the Emotions learn the hard way, being a teenager means making peace with the mess. This film about the jumble of emotions we all go through is a heartfelt experience for all.

Inside Out 2 opens in theaters on June 14.

photo credit: Disney

Filed Under: Entertainment
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