Inside Out 2 Review: A Stunning Sequel Worthy Of The Original

This past weekend saw the release of Pixar’s Insider Out 2, a follow-up to the beloved and wildly successful Inside Out. This latest outing from Pixar is going to hit close to home for a lot of people as it takes an imaginative look at the impact that anxiety can have on a person's self-image. It's a well-told story with a great deal of depth that offers kids and adults a lot to laugh and talk about.

Tuesday, June 18th 2024, 8:33 am

By: David Prock


This past weekend saw the release of Pixar’s Insider Out 2, a follow-up to the beloved and wildly successful Inside Out (2015).

I'll lead by saying that I hold the first film in high regard, placing it in the Top 3 all-time from Pixar Animation and I believe this new film is a worthy addition to the Pixar legacy and could be a top contender for movie of the year when 2024 is all said and done.

In a day and age where sequels and long-running franchises are the norm, many filmgoers now question not only the quality of a film but also whether or not it is "necessary." I've heard many online voices, friends, and even my wife repeat the question “Who asked for this?” when a sequel is announced. This means that each new installment comes with an added burden that can be hard to overcome. 

This is the headspace that the creators of Inside Out 2 find themselves in, how do you live up to a critically acclaimed, Academy Award-winning film while finding a way to be original?

Inside Out 2 finds a way to amplify the complex storytelling of the original while making time for the kind of fun gags that one might expect from a PG family film. While many might be ready to dismiss this as a kid's movie, by the end the emotional weight of the story will have adults rethinking every aspect of their lives.

How Pixar Expanded The World Of Inside Out Through The Addition of Anxiety

The primary challenge the creators of Inside Out 2 faced was to take some fairly complicated ideas and make them simple enough for kids but interesting enough for grown-ups. Many adults still don't feel like they fully understand some of these concepts, like Anxiety, suppressing emotions, and depression. This challenge is handled masterfully with the depth, sensitivity, and wit that audiences have come to expect from Pixar.

The first generation of emotions led by Joy(Amy Poehler) is met by a new crew that is more complex and nebulous in their motivations. Anxiety (Maya Hawke) leads the way for Envy, Ennui aka Boredom, and Embarrassment who each bring their unique style and humor to the cast. The new group arrives as Riley hits puberty, and begins to threaten Riley’s "Sense of Self" which Joy has carefully curated to fit her ideal version of Riley. 

Riley, who is not just a character but the setting for the film, is going through physical changes as she turns 13 and social changes as she prepares for high school. As the story plays out, the conflict starts to build between Joy and Anxiety, a scenario that isn’t that far-fetched for many Americans today. 

Data shows that 49% of Americans report frequently experiencing stress, a nearly 16-point increase over the past two decades according to a 2023 Gallup Poll.

The idea that growing up comes with a greater degree of self-doubt, and poor self-esteem is hardly a novel concept but few films have looked to explore that premise in the way that Inside Out 2 does. The film's greatest strength is the interpersonal conflict between these characters, which creates real-life struggles for their host. 

Anxiety believes she can protect Riley in her own way by banishing and suppressing the original generation of emotions. In doing so, she takes full control by disconnecting Riley’s Sense of Self altogether. In the end, much like the last film, Joy has to make her way back to Riley’s control center and on the way learn that she can't control everything with a positive attitude. She and Anxiety both have to learn to see the value in each other and how they can work together.

It’s a journey that works very well, though some of the gags along the way may prove hit-and-miss for some viewers. There are plenty of mind-based puns like the “Stream of Consciousness” which flows like a river through Riley’s mind and the Sac-Casm, a huge ravine that distorts innocent dialogue into veiled insults. My favorite running gag is the appearance of future emotion Nostalgia voiced by June Squibb. She makes a few appearances sporting a grandmotherly design and literal rose-colored glasses. Still, some of the more extended gags didn’t totally land for me and I found myself waiting to get back to the real story.

Is Inside Out 2 Worth Seeing?

Inside Out 2, in my estimation will find itself listed among many of the other Pixar greats and I highly recommend seeing it on the biggest screen possible. Its expansive mindscapes and gorgeous animation are magnified in the theater setting and even the director and producer have said they built the movie for that experience. I even saw this in 3D, something I tend to avoid because of the extra cost. This time I was blown away because the effect added another layer of depth to the frame but was never distracting.

Anyone who has ever been 13 will find something to relate to in this film and adults don’t need to worry about bringing a non-adult with them for the showing. As the old saying goes this is a great film for everyone 8 to 80. I'll finish with this, there is absolutely material here for an Inside Out 3 and then some.

Final Score: 4.5/5 stars.

For more reviews like this follow me over at SoManySequels.com or on our YouTube page.

Box Office Report:

Inside Out 2 opened to $154,201,673 in the United States and added another $140,001,678 from overseas for a worldwide total of $294,203,351. This will go down as the 2nd or 3rd biggest opening ever for an animated film depending on how some experts qualify the 2019 Lion King film that uses photorealistic animation to emulate a live-action film. It now sits as the 25th biggest 3-day weekend of all time and is a much-needed win for theaters in a year that has been down almost a quarter from this time last year.

Inside Out 2 will likely be the #1 movie of the year at the box office by the end of its second weekend passing current front-runner Dune Part 2.

-Box Office data via The Numbers.com & Bob Office Mojo

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