Inside Out 2 Review | Lacks Emotion

Pixar has always had a high bar when it comes to animated films. Even the numerous Toy Story sequels all managed to meet or exceed expectations, for the most part. When the company released Inside Out in 2015, it felt unique. A deep look into the emotions of a child and her parents as they all navigate adolescence from their respective viewpoints. Now, Inside Out 2 is here, but it doesn’t quite retain the magic of the first film, or the high bar Pixar is known for.

In Inside Out 2, Riley (Kensington Tallman) is now 13 years old and has taken a big interest in hockey, along with her two best friends, Grace (Grace Lu) and Bree (Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green). As Riley starts her teenage journey, new emotions move into her brain space, including Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser). The new emotions don’t get along well with the existing emotions, as Joy (Amy Poehler) and crew find themselves wandering through Riley’s mind in search of Riley’s lost sense of self.

One of the best parts of the original film was seeing each emotion take over at just the right moment. That’s also one of the biggest things missing in Inside Out 2. Pixar provides a little bit of this at the beginning of the film, almost to ease fans of the original into the sequel. Unfortunately, only one or two emotions take over throughout the vast majority of the film, which drastically limits the charm and fun audiences enjoyed in the first movie.

inside out 2

A new director stepped in to handle Inside Out 2, as well as a writing team that only retained one member from the original. In addition, Amy Poehler and Bill Hader are not credited with any additional dialogue like they were in the original film. Hader is no longer voicing Fear, which explains his absence, but the lack of this additional dialogue is definitely felt.

There are some fun and wholesome moments in Inside Out 2, and the ending offers a comforting life lesson that we’ve all come to expect from Pixar films. But in a theater filled with families, the children and adults were mostly silent throughout the film. Minimal laughter, almost no tears, and a real testament to the lack of emotion in this sequel (no pun intended).

Ennui is the standout emotion in Inside Out 2, but even she is limited to only a few standout moments. Anxiety gets the most screen time next to Joy, but I think we can all attest to anxiety not being a fun emotion. This leads to a rather predictable film that offers little to no surprises. When it jumps into the brain space of other characters beyond Riley, it’s mostly her friends, meaning the emotions are nearly identical. The fun variety from seeing Riley’s mother (Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) try to figure out how to navigate delicate situations is virtually gone.

At a base level, Inside Out 2 is a respectable animated film. The voice acting is top-notch, the animation is great, and the story has its moments. The problem is that this doesn’t live up to the first film, nor is it representative of Pixar’s normal level of quality. Inside Out 2 feels almost as though a lesser animation studio saw Inside Out and wanted to make its own version of it. It’s not a bad animated film, it just doesn’t reach the heights most expect from Pixar.

About Inside Out 2

Synopsis: Follow Riley in her teenage years, as new emotions begin to emerge, causing a big change for Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.

Director: Kelsey Mann

Writers: Meg LaFauve, Dave Holstein, Kelsey Mann

Stars: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Tony Hale, Liza Lapira, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Ayo Edebiri, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Paul Walter Hauser, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1 Hour, 36 Minutes

Releases: June 14, 2024

Amy Poehler, disney, Inside Out 2, Maya Hawke, movie review, pixar, Tony Hale

Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.

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