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Inside Out 2 review: A Deep Dive into Adolescence and New Emotions

In Inside Out 2, Riley, the once-displaced tween from the original Inside Out, is now 13 years old. Kensington Tallman takes over the voice role, vividly portraying Riley as she navigates the tumultuous waters of adolescence. As Riley steps into this new phase of life, she encounters a whole new set of emotions. The Headquarters of her brain lights up with a siren, signaling the onset of puberty. This prompts an overhaul, with renovation workers tearing down walls and installing a new console to accommodate Riley’s evolving feelings.

inside out 2 review

 The Return of the Original Emotions

The original quintet of emotions—Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale), Disgust (Liza Lapira), and Joy (Amy Poehler)—remain present but are now relegated to "suppressed emotions," pushed to the periphery of Riley’s mind. Throughout the film, these emotions embark on a literal journey to the back of her mind, symbolizing their reduced influence in her new emotional landscape. This journey reflects their struggle to maintain relevance as Riley’s emotional complexity grows.

 A Worthy Successor to a Pixar Classic

Inside Out was celebrated as a visionary film that ingeniously created a world inside Riley’s mind, deconstructing human personality in a manner that was both entertaining and profoundly moving. While Inside Out 2 may not deliver the same level of shock and imaginative daring, director Kelsey Mann and screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein successfully build on the original film’s brilliance. They come remarkably close to matching its charm and depth, offering a thoughtful exploration of adolescence.

 Introducing New Emotions

The sequel introduces a delightful new crew of emotions: Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), and Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos). However, the key newcomer is Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke. Initially depicted as a walking nervous wreck, Anxiety evolves into a dynamic force, utilizing her nervous energy to drive action and decision-making. This character adds a nuanced layer to the film, representing the heightened anxiety typical of early adolescence.

 Riley's Summer of Transition

As Riley prepares for high school, she faces a summer of significant transition. She is set to attend a three-day hockey camp, initially excited until she learns that her best friends won’t be attending the same high school. Her primary goal shifts to making the high school hockey team, the Fire Hawks, and impressing their leader, Valentina (Lilimar). Riley’s desire to fit in with Valentina and the other cool kids takes precedence over everything else, including her existing friendships.

 Anxiety Takes Control

Anxiety emerges as the defining emotion, driving Riley to prioritize social acceptance and future worries over present joys. The emotional battle within Riley’s mind intensifies, centering on her Sense of Self. Riley grapples with whether to remain true to herself or to become who others expect her to be. This internal conflict lies at the heart of Inside Out 2, offering a poignant exploration of early adolescence and the desire for social validation.

inside out 2

 A Tale of Fitting In

Inside Out 2 presents a compelling fable about the desire to fit in and be validated by the popular crowd. While it may not be as uproariously funny as its predecessor due to the lack of novelty, it still delivers memorable moments of humor and insight. Noteworthy scenes include Riley’s awkward attempts to name a cool band and the creation of a “Sar-chasm” in her brain. Nostalgia, voiced by June Squibb, makes a delightful appearance, adding a humorous and touching element to the film.


Inside Out 2 marks a triumphant return for Pixar, blending the perspectives of children and adults. The film delves into the micro choices that shape our personalities, questioning whether we allow anxiety to overshadow joy and if our desire to fit in overrides our true selves. By exploring these themes, Inside Out 2 resonates deeply with audiences, leaving them eagerly anticipating further exploration of Riley's emotional journey in potential future sequels.

This sequel not only captures the essence of the original but also expands it, providing a rich, emotionally resonant experience that both children and adults can appreciate. Pixar continues to prove its mastery in storytelling with Inside Out 2, delivering a film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

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