Directed by: Kelsey Mann
Written by: Meg LeFauve, Dave Holstein, Kelsey Mann
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Tony Hale, Liza Lapira, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
Released: June 13, 2024
Grade: A-

Inside Out 2

I started reviewing movies in 1996 and not once in the past 28 years has my favourite of a particular year received a sequel.  The closest was an award-winning musical adaptation of Billy Elliot (my top release of 2000) which premiered in London’s West End in 2005.  The streak now ends with the release of Inside Out 2, a sequel to the much-loved Pixar film which won the Academy Award for best animated feature.  It was my favourite movie of 2015 (edging out Selma and Mad Max: Fury Road).

If new to the material, Inside Out took us inside the mind of a vibrant, impressionable 11-year-old girl and the array of emotions and memories which reside therein.  It was funny, creative, and rich in detail.  Inside Out 2 picks up the story two years later.  Riley (voiced by Kensington Tallman) is a hockey-loving, braces-wearing teenager who is top of her class at school.  She has a strong “sense of self” and is looking forward to hanging with her two best friends at hockey camp as the summer holidays kick off.

The five emotions in Riley’s head (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust) have things under control until they wake up early one morning and find a giant red light flashing on the “emotions dashboard”.  It signals the arrival of puberty and with it, a range of new emotions rock up to take control – Anxiety, Envy, Embarrassment and Ennui (a specialist in sarcastic boredom).  These fresh feelings have good intentions but it’s not long before they’re upending Riley’s world and disrupting her relationships with friends and family.

You could argue it lacks as much originality as the 2015 movie but Inside Out 2 is still a terrific film to be enjoyed by people of all ages.  It’s the kind of movie you could watch as a teenager, enjoy immensely, and then appreciate it at a different level when watching again ten years later.  It clearly explores the complexity of human emotions, utilising both comedy and drama, and leaves you with something to chat about.  It’s remarkable how many cute, memorable characters are created inside of 96 minutes (a particular shout-out goes to Anxiety and Pouchy).

The production values are excellent.  Kelsey Mann, making her feature film debut, continues the great work of Pete Docter (who made the first movie) in crafting a fantasy world which is both fun and interesting.  I speak of everything from the simple sounds of rattling memory balls… to the detailed depiction of the hard-working “imagination team”.  There are also some great individual scenes such as a fast-paced moment where the emotions closely scrutinise body language as Riley talks with friends in the back seat of her parents’ car.

Engaging from start to finish (the time flies by), Inside Out 2 is a worthy sequel which, according to my own emotions, deserves a strong recommendation!