‘Inside Out 2’ Review: Pixar’s Emotional Tale Still Has The Creative and Insightful Wit

Kenny Miles reviews his most anticipated film of 2024, Inside Out 2, which manages to be a strong follow-up from Pixar.

The original Inside Out has a special place in my mind and heart, ranking among my all-time favorite movies, a fixture on my Letterboxd Top 4 since I joined the app. Over the years, I’ve revisited it often, drawn to its wise, imaginative, and life-affirming message. It was more than an animated movie for kids; it was something adults could think about years later. This personal connection amplifies my excitement for Inside Out 2, making it my most eagerly anticipated movie of the year. What did I think?

Inside Out 2 is a movie that exceeded my expectations on a few levels. It’s still a creative, emotionally resonant, and relatable exploration of the human experience as the original, delving deeper into the complexities of our minds and how to confront the challenges of aging. It follows a familiar rhythm from the previous movie. Still, with Riley growing older and facing the challenges of adulthood, it’s a journey that adults can relate to on a more authentic level. As her personality evolves and new emotions emerge, they must learn to coexist and work together, a struggle that many of us can identify with in our own lives.

The introduction of Anxiety, a new character in Inside Out 2, is a significant highlight. This character brings profound insights into how we process our experiences and emotions, particularly those that can hinder our understanding of healthy emotions like Joy. Anxiety’s chaotic energy, while attempting to assist Riley in functioning and anticipating problems, also grapples with understanding her powers, adding a layer of depth to the storyline. I could relate to the struggles.

See Also: ‘Soul’ Review: Pixar Hits All The Right Notes

Inside Out 2’s setup of Riley’s mind and how the brain processes information and stores memories was insightful. The sensitive reactions of pushing buttons on the emotions control board were clever and thematically on-point. It’s a testament to the movie’s commitment to exploring the psychological aspects of our lives, making it a must-watch for anyone who can relate. One nice touch is how Riley interacts with other humans and either builds or tears down her self-worth.

What I admired most about Inside Out 2 was the delicate care it took to structure the plot and expand on the themes of the emotions. We can get cynical about big-budget mainstream sequels, but Inside Out 2 had a lot of important things to say and a more profound, resonant message. And it wasn’t all serious. The bonkers, unexpected moments with 2D animation were a delightful surprise and some of the best humorous moments I won’t spoil.

We live in an anxious world, and I hope Inside Out 2 feelings or serious consequences can come to fruition, a poignant metaphor. I did some self-reflection, thinking about how an unhealthy relationship with anxiety can hinder living life. I plan to take away a few life lessons from the movie that helped me become a more balanced, emotionally mature person. That’s a huge compliment to give a Pixar movie, even if this isn’t as fantastic as the first one.

Inside Out 2 opens in theaters and IMAX on June 14, 2024.

Written by
Kenny admired film criticism as a child when his mother wrote a positive review of Home Alone in his small town Arkansas newspaper and defended it against angry Letters to the Editor. Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies especially the cultural impact of a film, if something is overlooked by Hollywood, or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, specialty releases, an auteur director, a unique premise, branding, and THE much infamous "awards season." Kenny currently lives in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion working as an events marketing coordinator. He spends many Friday nights exit polling for CinemaScore (and his opinions are his own).

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