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The Hollywood Insider Inside Out 2 Review Pixar Sequel

This weekend, the fan-favorite Pixar film, ‘Inside Out’, was met with it’s sequel. ‘Inside Out 2’ opening weekend was a smashing success at the box office, scoring $155 million within a few days. Though ‘Inside Out 2’ had some significant changes since the first film, such as new cast members and new emotions, the sequel was a solid addition to the Pixar family.


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‘Inside Out 2’ follows the same characters and a similar structure to its predecessor. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust seem to have a steady structure within the mind of Riley. However, once Riley turns thirteen and begins puberty, things begin to change. Not only are there more complex controls and ideas, but new and complex emotions as well. The new editions to the team include Anxiety, Envy, Ennui, Embarassment, and Nostalgia.


‘Inside Out 2’ takes a new approach to it’s storytelling. The first film was mainly focused on what was happening inside Riley’s mind, specifically the journey of Sadness and Joy through the mind and how the other emotions were doing. The storylines happening outside of the mind, such as Riley’s start at a new school, and her spiral into depression, were only seen as the effects of the journey in her mind, rather than their own storyline. However, in the second film, we are able to see more of what happens outside the mind in Riley’s life, rather than just how her emotions effect her. There is a balance between Riley’s life and mind in this film. A strong storyline pertaining to Riley’s upcoming freshman year mixes well with the emotion’s journey to restore her sense of self. As Riley comes to the realization that her best friends are going to a different high school, she must choose between trying to impress the new hockey team and coach, or stick with her old friends.


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After seeing a few trailers for ‘Inside Out 2’, I was a bit worried about how Pixar would go about the mind of a teenage girl. Though I had full trust in the potential of this story since the release of ‘Turning Red’, there was a part of me that wondered how ‘Inside Out 2’ would go about portraying the changes that come with being a thirteen-year-old girl. While ‘Turning Red’ was a fan-favorite, many parents became concerned that the film was inappropriate, due to the mentions of a character’s menstrual cycle. Would Pixar shy away from an accurate portrayal of a teenage girl, due to the backlash from prior attempts? Would Riley’s story be watered down to satisfy conservative parents?


It was very clear from the first movie that Riley is a child that struggles with her mental health. The first film demonstrated signs of depression that had never been seen before in an animated film, let alone one meant for children. Love it or hate it, ‘Inside Out’ was revolutionary, especially for mental health professionals who utilized the film in their practices. ‘Inside Out 2’, rather than squashing the themes of growing up, helped demonstrate those inner thought processes in a way that was not only easy to understand for younger audiences, but all-too relatable for those who went through the same struggles. ‘Inside Out 2’ did a stellar job of portraying the mental health of this girl, especially one who has struggled in the past. I appreciated how the story arc was very real. Many of us have dealt with 


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As mentioned before, one of the story arcs that the film dealt with was the loss of one’s sense of self. A new concept in the world of the mind is the sense of self, which is a tree that roots itself in memories and repeat phrases that help ensure one’s sense of self. An example of this is Riley’s voice repeating the phrases “I’m a good friend” or “I’m a good person”. However, when Anxiety begins to take control of the control room and bottle up the old emotions, the sense of self is thrown away. The emotions from the original ‘Inside Out’ go on a journey to retrieve the sense of self, while Anxiety, Ennui, Embarassment, and Envy attempt to build a “New Riley”. However, the new sense of self is rooted in negative memories and thoughts, as Riley begins to root herself into the need to make the high school hockey team and have new friends in high school. 


The ending of the film shows Riley repeating the phrase “I’m not good enough” and having a panic attack during a camp hockey game. This was one of the biggest scenes of the film, bringing many audience members to tears, as many of us have had moments like this. Without too many spoilers, the portrayal of Anxiety during this panic attack truly brought a visual to the racing feelings of Anxiety and the phrasing of Riley’s new sense of self felt all-too familiar to those who have struggled with their mental health. It almost felt too real for many audience members, but it was done in a careful way that wasn’t triggering for those who struggle with anxiety.


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Of course, the animation of the film was absolutely gorgeous, and the Pixar team was able to beautifully expand on their world building of the brain. The team was able to add different nooks and cranies of the mind, such as the vault of secrets, and the sar-casm. Not to mention, we were able to see an expansion of the mind, such as the imagination room being changed from ideas for playing pretend to the clever “Mt. Crushmore”. 



With the changes that were happening onscreen, there were some changes that were made off screen as well. While Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith and Lewis Black returned from the first movie, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, who originally voiced Disgust and Fear, did not return for the sequel. However, Tony Hale and Liza Laprira were able to seamlessly step into these roles, as it was difficult to distinguish these voices from their predecessors. Not to mention, the new additions of Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebri, Adele Exarchopoulos, and Paul Walter Hauser were delightful as the new and complex emotions that joined the team. 


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Overall, ‘Inside Out 2’ was a strong and steady sequel to the beloved ‘Inside Out’. Outside of the box-office, the film was a success in it’s portrayal of a young woman coming of age and the depictions of mental health struggles. While audiences are unsure if there is anything coming up next from the emotions and Riley’s mind, the sequel was a satisfying addition to the Pixar family.


Cast: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Ayo Edebiri | Director: Kelsey Mann | Writers: Meg LeFauve, Dave Holstein | Producers: Mark Nielsen | Cinematography: Adam Habib, Jonathan Pytko | Editing: Maurissa Horwitz


By Abigail Johnson

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