Inside Out 2 (2024) Movie Review – Is Pixar finally back?

Is Pixar finally back?

When Pixar dropped Inside Out back in 2015, it quickly cemented itself as one of the best Pixar had ever put out. And will illustrious titles like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall-E in its repertoire, that’s no mean feat.

Lately, Pixar haven’t really been firing on all cylinders. Turning Red, while a fun, quirky watch, was heavily geared toward females, while Lightyear played out as a film nobody asked for – nor wanted. Elemental was very by the numbers and flopped in theatres. By this point, Pixar looked to have lost the magic that made it a hit back in the day.

Fast forward to 2024 and while Inside Out 2 isn’t going to be the movie to catapult the studio back to the top, there’s enough here to suggest the studio are on the right track. Even with the mass layoffs that have befallen the studio lately. Inside Out 2 is a good sequel, a film that plays on the same ideas that made the first so good, and expands that to craft a sequel that adults and children will love in equal doses.

Puberty is a tough time for any kid and when it comes to Riley, our 13 year old protagonist has her toughest test yet. With Hockey Camp coming up and her emotions a cocktail of confusion and panic, Joy and the other emotions find themselves confronted with a new chapter in Riley’s life. And with that, come brand new emotions over at HQ. Embarrassment, Ennui (French for Boredom), Envy and Anxiety.

The latter ends up more trouble than she’s worth, spiralling Riley into an unrecognizable mess, hijacking headquarters, and banishing the “old” Emotions, led by Joy. In essence, the story takes parts of the first film and spins that to include Riley slipping further into an anxiety-laden panic, following a rather rudimentary “coming of age” story, as she abandons her own values to fit in with the cool kids.

The idea of the “nerdy” kid abandoning her real friends in search of becoming one of the “cool” kids is something that has been done numerous times in other movies, to varying degrees of success. However, the film takes on an extra dimension here thanks to the emotional journey they all take. Although the new Emotions are largely archetypal, the old ones are a lot more complex than before.

Joy in particular ends up having an existential crisis and there are a few scenes where she interacts with Anxiety partway through the film that stand out, as the pair end up butting heads.

Similarly, Sadness and Embarrassment have a couple of interesting moments, something that typifies their similar emotional make-up, and how they sometimes go hand in hand together. As a personal gripe, Anger could have had a much larger role here, especially as Puberty is usually typified by massive outbursts of rage. In many ways it does feel like a missed opportunity not to have Anger “turn to the dark side” and join Anxiety and co. rather than playing out as a comic relief character, which is a bizarre creative choice, all thing considered. 

On that same note, Disgust and Fear don’t really have a whole lot else going on either. It would have been nice to see Disgust and Envy butt heads a bit more, given their emotional make-up is quite similar, but we don’t really get that. It’s strange too because you’d think, given the cocktail of emotion that goes on during Puberty, that there would be plenty of room for a big fight or conflict beyond wrestling for Riley’s sense of self, but what’s here works all the same.

The film’s messaging is where Inside Out is at its strongest. The way Anxiety is depicted here, and seeps into every facet of Riley’s mental make-up, is really well developed. There’s a lovely ebb and flow to the way we’re introduced to new and familiar areas too, including a return to Imagination Land. The creative ideas surrounding how Riley’s mind works, like a “Job Parade” or a literal “brainstorm” are but a few examples of this.

This is a story that’s likely to resonate more with adults than it will with kids, in all honesty. Anyone who has been through anxiety will know all too well the feeling of being overwhelmed or the confliction that comes from wanting to be cool and fit in at school.

Inside Out 2 does a fantastic job of showcasing this and it’s clear the writers understand anxiety and what it can do to a person. Furthermore, the visuals are fantastic and the colours pop, especially for the new emotions. But on that same note, there’s not the same visual design that made the first stand out in quite the same way. The same can be said for the music, although it is nice to hear that same main theme, “Bundle of Joy”, playing out toward the climactic parts of the movie.

Ultimately, the visual and audio design being a step down echoes the sentiments to Inside Out 2 as a film. This is a very enjoyable watch and there are definitely some stand out moments. It beautifully captures the essence of Anxiety and how that can destroy your sense of self, but similarly, it doesn’t quite hit the pinnacle that made the first such a smash hit.


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  • Verdict - 8/10

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