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J.C. Reviews: Inside Out 2 is an Insightful Sequel


by James Coulter

Inside Out—along with The Incredibles and Toy Story 3—is among my top three favorite Pixar films. The film is truly a masterpiece. Through its creative portrayal of the inner workings of the human mind as a corporate bureaucracy, the film conveys complex psychological concepts into a simple story that can be enjoyed by all ages. Inside Out is truly a smart movie for both children and adults that delves deep into the human psyche and has fun doing it.

With Inside Out being one of Pixar’s most acclaimed movies, and with the film providing plenty of potential topics to explore, it was only a matter of time until a sequel was made. But will the second movie offer a deeper delve to show what makes us all tick? Or does this franchise need to visit more therapy sessions to unpack its emotional baggage?

Inside Out 2 continues to follow the inner workings of the mind of 13-year-old Riley. Upon becoming a teenager, she finds herself experiencing new emotions: Embarrassment, Envy, Ennui, and—most prominently—Anxiety. Unfortunately, during a hockey camping trip, her new emotions enact a hostile takeover of her mind, not only placing extreme emotional pressure on her but also making her lose her sense of self. Can the old emotions, led by Joy, regain control? Or will Riley end up becoming an emotional wreck?

Inside Out 2 builds upon the scenario and ideas set up in the first film. Inside Out established the conceit of our minds being controlled by five main emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. It also established the concept of core memories, which serve to build our overall personalities, forming us into who we are. The first film utilized this conceit to explore the emotional state of a young girl feeling depressed following a big move to a new city/ Through that story, it conveyed the important message that, sometimes, it’s okay to not be okay, and that you shouldn’t feign joy to stifle your sadness.

Inside Out 2 expands upon all of that and more with the introduction of beliefs, which are rooted in our core memories to form our overall sense of self. For example, in this movie, Riley’s memories help form her belief that she is a good person and a good friend. However, while struggling to make new friends and keep her old friends, her sense of self is disrupted, which is all the more instigated by the introduction of her new emotions, especially anxiety.

Speaking of which, the character of Anxiety, while clearly an antagonist, never comes across as a straight-up villain. While she certainly exacerbates Riley’s emotional state by making her—well, anxious, Anxiety’s motivation is strictly to help Riley consider her life in the long term and figure out the best outcome for it. No spoilers, but the message ends up being that we shouldn’t allow anxiety to control our lives and that we ought not to be anxious over the things we cannot control.

Overall, Inside Out 2, while not as great as the first movie, still offers a creative, insightful, and entertaining look at concepts like adolescence, anxiety, and repressed emotions. As with the first film, it manifests into living color the abstract of the psychological in a way that even children

can understand and enjoy. If you loved the first film, you certainly want to check out the second one in theaters.

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Staff Reporter

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