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'Inside Out 2' Review: Pixar Heading Back in the Right Direction

By Connie Lee June 19, 2024
When Evil Lurks

Since the release of Inside Out in 2015, Pixar has had a pretty tumultuous nine years full of ups and duds. So, it’s no shocker that they decided to revisit a fan-favourite story and create a sequel to try to make lightning strike twice. With Inside Out 2, there’s no doubt that Pixar has regained its footing a bit. But even with the solid efforts to expand Riley’s character, the movie still misses a lot of the whimsical fun, surprises, and clever and heart-warming emotional insight and depth that the original had.


Inside Out 2 picks up a short time later from where the first movie left off. In this one, Riley is now 13 and taking on the beginning of her teenage years seamlessly – that is until some more complex emotions decide it’s time to rear their heads. Suddenly, Riley is thrust into puberty and is trying to navigate the challenges that are thrown at her right before starting high school while her OG emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, Anger) clash with her new ones.


Because Inside Out exceeded expectations and had most of us (if you’re like me) reaching for the tissue box constantly, it’s hard to not totally compare the sequel to the original. But the most noticeable thing about the story is that where the original took risks and was surprisingly resonating, the sequel stays too safe, logical, and predictable. It lacks the realistic turmoil the first one had that was relatable to anyone who has felt all the feels – even with Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke) taking center stage and ramping things up to 100.

Inside Out 2

While fresh faces are always exciting, the new emotions leave a bit to be desired as they’re not all utilized as much as they should be. Anxiety quickly becomes the leading emotion that’s set on preparing Riley for a great future. Helping Anxiety is Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), and Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), but they quickly fall into the background. We never really get to see how each individually contributed to Riley’s corrupted sense of self, or learn about their quirks and characteristics, all of which would have made the story even stronger.

Of course, as with most Pixar movies, the visuals here are nothing less than phenomenal, and make up for the lacklustre bumps in the arc. Coincidentally (but probably not really), the colours and animations seem very two dimensional at first look. But like emotions, the more they’re examined, the more it’s discovered how complex they truly are. Everything is so multi-layered with different patterns, shapes, and shades, that it feels like the candy-coloured world is tangible, and all it takes is a few steps through the screen for us to be right in the middle of the franticness with our favourite characters.

Inside Out 2

As for the inevitable question of the ages that this is appropriate for, there is something for everyone here. Younger viewers will love the wacky hijinks, bright colours, and zippy energy Joy and Co. provide. Older kids, teenagers, and even those bordering on being younger adults are the ones who will get the most out of this as they are the closest to Riley in age and experience. Adults can appreciate the breezy storyline, uncomplicated ideas, and moving moments, but might find they have to explain concepts that may go over their children’s heads, like the meaning of Ennui.

Lightning may not have struck twice here, but Inside Out 2 is still adorable and enjoyable, and a good indicator that Pixar is starting to head in the right direction. Hopefully, with their next puberty-driven tale, they can learn from the shortcomings of Riley’s story, let loose, and take more risks to catch audiences off guard in the best way possible.

Star Rating

Rating Inside Out 2

Inside Out 2 is out now in cinemas


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