‘Inside Out 2’ Review: Riley’s Emotions Take Center Stage (Again) 

Settle on your seats for a mix of thrilling adventures and heartfelt moments in the new worldwide box office hit, Inside Out 2! One second you’re at the edge of your seat as Riley grapples with life-altering choices, the other you’re in awe with uncharted territories of her mind. Banters with the new managers at the control room also add a layer of comedy that perfectly balances with touching moments in the film. Prepare for both laughter and tears as Inside Out 2 reminds us that growing up is truly an “emotional” experience (pun intended).

In case you have missed out on the 2015 animated Pixar movie, Inside Out -an instant classic upon its release-, this follows the life of an eleven-year-old girl, Riley, and how she navigates through life’s changes. But the twist? We see it unfold from the perspective of her emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). 

On June 12, Pixar follows up on this masterpiece where Riley is officially a teen entering freshman in high school. This new life stage also brought to life a new set of emotions: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser). With too many characters jostling against each other for control, Pixar throws us in the middle of a chaotic clash between Riley’s initial and new emotions.

Things to look out for in Inside Out 2 (SPOILERS AHEAD)

On-spot (and quite unsettling) portrayal of the new emotions

Inside Out couldn’t be more accurate with depicting the struggle of sense of self that comes with puberty. There’s also no better way to signify this than the arrival of Anxiety. Anxiety is a neurotic planner who strongly believes she can pressure Riley into being a better person. Hits a bit close to home? Well, it gets seemingly more spot on. Inside Out 2 reveals Anxiety is not the ‘villain’ but just another emotion that demands to be felt. Quite like Joy in the first franchise. She makes Riley all worked up thinking about different scenarios so she can be “prepared” for the worst. She masks insecurity with determination to be better. This led Riley to break away from who she really was so she can “fit in”. To make it worst, it only sent Anxiety to a pit of panic attack when it didn’t happen. 

A trip back to Riley’s mind

Pixar will amaze you with the addition to the setting, bringing magic to the experience of looking into Riley’s mind. Creators introduced new islands formed from composite of Core Memories. A hidden  “Vault of Secrets” that safeguards Riley’s Deep Dark Secret. The “Back of the Mind”, a literal and metaphorical dustbin, that holds memories Joy thought should be forgotten. But the most significant addition is the “Belief System”, which connects to Riley’s ‘sense of self’. It’s a vibrant tapestry of glowing threads that branched out from Riley’s core memories. It literally rings with the phrases of what Riley believes herself to be.

Lots of pun! 

The Inside Out franchise is a pun-derland. By giving life to abstract concepts, the creative minds behind the films have crafted a treasure trove of wordplay. The sequel is no exception. It mentioned “bottled up emotions”, literally referring to the initial feelings trapped inside a bottle. Then there was the “Stream of Consciousness”, a literal flowing river of all Riley’s current thoughts. “Sar-chasm”, a literal chasm that turns anything said on one side into a sarcastic remark on the other. “Brainstorm”, a literal storm of lightbulbs in Riley’s head signifying bright ideas. These are just a taste of the many puns that bring humor to the film.

Inside Out 2 succeeds in packaging complex ideas about life in a way that growing teens like Riley, can understand. Not only the young but even the young at heart can learn a thing or two from this movie. The film reminds us that even messy, negative emotions and memories are part of what shapes us.  It’s a powerful message, delivered in a way that stays with you long after the credits roll.

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