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Inside Out 2 movie review & film summary (2024)

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Inside Out 2 movie review & film summary (2024)

Mann doesn’t necessarily break the formula the first “Inside Out” established. This is a fairly straightforward yet affecting story about Joy and Anxiety, both realizing that personhood can’t be reverse-engineered. Riley is so focused on gaining Val’s approval, thereby negating her former best friends, that she merely reflects Val rather than herself. She is also so driven by her competitive desires that she only feels satisfaction whenever she either gains approval from Val or proves her competitive dominance. Seeing Anxiety remold Riley into a blank character as Joy and the other emotions trace through the recesses of Riley’s mind makes for a mostly satisfying structure, allowing the film to assuredly bounce through visually dazzling blitzes of color and whimsy for an intoxicating style that at once feels gentle, fun, and safely crowd-pleasing as it deals with the pressure of being a teenage girl trying to conform to the lofty standards set by other teenage girls.      

That doesn’t mean new jokes aren’t added along the way: a nightmare fueling “Blue’s Clues”-inspired character, a scene in Imagination Land recalling “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” and Mount Crushmore are sharp zingers. The new emotions, however, aren’t as memorable as the primary characters from the prior film. For such an urgent emotion, Envy pretty much fades into the background. Embarrassment has its moments, particularly when put in conversation with Sadness. Ennui’s act wears a tad thin after its initial fast start—the moodiness of being French is understandably a great well to keep hitting. 

None of the new characters carry the same heartbreaking resonance as Bing Bong, who, admittedly, is among the greatest animated characters of the past decade. It’s surprising, then, that Anxiety and Joy barely have any scenes together. Maybe trying to recreate the two-handed dynamic that fueled the first film felt too obvious of a narrative choice. But without much else to replace it, the film does lean heavily on the barrage of jokes it throws at the viewer to carry it through its predictable maneuvering. 

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