Home Reviews Films Film Review – INSIDE OUT 2 (2024): New Disney/Pixar Sequel is Endearing but a Bit Light on Plot Development

Film Review – INSIDE OUT 2 (2024): New Disney/Pixar Sequel is Endearing but a Bit Light on Plot Development

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Film Review – INSIDE OUT 2 (2024): New Disney/Pixar Sequel is Endearing but a Bit Light on Plot Development

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Inside Out 2 Review

Inside Out 2 (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Kelsey Mann, written by Meg LeFauve, Dave Holstein and Kelsey Mann and starring Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Ayo Edebiri, Lilimar, Grace Lu, Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paul Walter Hauser, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ron Funches and James Austin Johnson.

The first Inside Out was an animated work of true artistry. It had a groundbreaking concept and was humorous and entertaining. Director Kelsey Mann’s new follow-up sequel movie, Inside Out 2, is full of clever ideas that never truly find a stable home in the movie’s screenplay. Sure, the genius of those ideas is to be admired but imagine what could have been done if those unique insights about human emotions were developed more into a longer, more ambitious project. Inside Out 2 plays it safe for the most part, yet it is still highly enjoyable.

The young girl at the center of these films is Riley (voiced by Kensington Tallman) who is now a teenager in this sequel. Riley is starting to get a bit crankier than she was in the first film. Riley loves hockey and wants nothing more than to be really good at it so she can please her family, herself and her friends. When the opportunity arises to go to a camp to play hockey, she’s immensely happy. Her dad (voice of Kyle MacLachlan) mentions something about hoping she gets a hockey scholarship but Riley plays for the love of the game. Her emotions take over as she plays. Anger (Lewis Black), that little red guy, gets involved when he has to but Riley plays hockey for the enjoyment of it and Joy (Amy Poehler), the short blue-haired girl, steers the emotion ship for the most part when Riley plays. In case you didn’t know it, though, this movie is more about those emotions inside Riley than Riley’s outside life.

Riley meets a new group of friends and tries to win them over. She has a couple of close friends but they will soon be going to a different school than Riley which complicates matters. Riley, at first, admits to what her favorite band is but then realizes that she has to tell these would-be friends what they want to hear rather than the truth. Riley wants to fit in and her emotions go back and forth trying to do the right thing to match the desires of how Riley wants to act. But, enough about Riley.

There are some new emotions in Inside Out 2 that add a significant amount of fuel to the fire that ignites the movie’s threadbare plot. The most memorable of these emotions is Anxiety (Maya Hawke) who is orange and has shaggy hair and a very distinct set of teeth. Anxiety figuratively uses those teeth by sinking them into the film’s story line. Anxiety wants to get in the way of the other emotions. Memories are placed in jars far in the back of Riley’s mind and the other emotions are sort of misplaced as Anxiety’s nervousness gets the best of Riley.

The film revolves a lot around Riley’s “Sense of Self” which the main emotions must eventually try to maintain for the greater good. Meanwhile, Adèle Exarchopoulos voices an emotion called Ennui which is the essence of boredom. Ennui has some good moments as Riley just comfortably goes with the flow instead of giving more details regarding some of the answers characters seek in the film. Riley’s parents want to know how her day went at one point but Riley maker her response simply, “good,” without getting into details.

Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Fear (Tony Hale), Disgust (Liza Lapira) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) are involved in the action but mostly to a lesser extent than some of the other characters. Joy and Anxiety drive the plot of Inside Out 2 as Joy is the leader and Anxiety is the troublemaker. This film is enjoyable as a whole but it is a bit slight. It often feels like we’re treading on familiar ground even with the addition of some new emotions. The movie’s biggest surprise is its cliffhanger of an ending in regards to Riley finding out if her current dream in life came true.

There are some laughs in Inside Out 2 that make it a successful effort overall. A moment where sarcasm is wrongly misinterpreted particularly stands out. However, it’s the film’s heart that really drives the picture home. Amy Poehler’s voice adds a distinct quality of goodness to Joy. Maya Hawke is more than reliable, as the voice of the nervous embodiment of Riley’s personality. Hawke plays her character as mischievously unaware of the harm she is doing. Ayo Edebiri has her moments too but she’s working on so many other fine projects right now that this is ultimately not one of her strongest recent roles.

Inside Out 2 is what it is, mostly for the better. It will do well because it has smart humor but it doesn’t dig deep enough into the ideas it introduces. Rather than playing off some ideas that are genius, the movie touches upon humorous concepts but then drops them like a bad habit. For example, the idea of why we want to tell our friends what they want to hear rather than the truth is fascinating. That theme could have been explored more but, instead, the movie sticks to a plot where our characters have to come together as a team to make sure Riley is OK. That concept of teamwork is important but overly familiar. If Inside Out 2 delved more into some of the less traditional ideas it presents, it would have been more fun. Still, Inside Out 2 is purely enjoyable entertainment which will tug at your heartstrings at certain moments as well.

Rating: 7/10

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