Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Movie Review | Inside Out 2 - More feelings, more problems

Published:Wednesday | June 19, 2024 | 12:11 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
This image released by Disney/Pixar shows Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler (left), and Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke, in a scene from ‘Inside Out 2’.
This image released by Disney/Pixar shows Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler (left), and Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke, in a scene from ‘Inside Out 2’.

A sequel to Inside Out doesn’t fill me with instant excitement. The idea of returning to a film so creative and thoughtful feels like a set-up for disappointment. Then again, Riley, the young girl whose innermost thoughts and feelings are at the focus of the series, surely has many more life events to go through, and so many feelings to process. This sequel, set two years after the original, sees Riley going through that awful and terrible moment that befalls us all. Puberty.

Her fuse has grown short, and though she’s acclimated to her new environment, she nevertheless struggles with the latest change. Her dreams of becoming a hockey player are within reach, but it may cost her the friends she’s come to love. All these emotions are of course visualised with the returning feelings of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear. They work to cultivate and protect Riley’s sense of self, depicted as a glowing, humming swirl of loops that could easily be passed off as a centrepiece at your trendy neighbour’s dinner table. It all goes swimmingly until Riley’s new emotions enter the picture. Namely Embarrassment, Ennui, Envy, and the most potent of them all, Anxiety.

It’s here where Inside Out 2 falls into the trap of many sequels, and delivers a story that’s a near beat for beat repeat of the original. A battle between conflicting emotions results in one set of emotions being ousted from their posts at Riley’s control console. A search for a lost item that if not returned will shatter Riley’s existence, is expressed as erratic behaviour in Riley. A lesson is learned about balance, the power of friendship, at the end of a visual Mecca filled with heart and humour.

While many elements are the same, Inside Out 2 impresses in what it does differently. For one, the characters we met in the first film are more developed, working as a unit, and the depictions of complex emotions like anxiety are exhilarating and terrifying. Much like the first film, Inside Out 2 captures a specific experience and makes it infinitely relatable to those that know it, and instantly understood to those that don’t.

The sequel also gives an updated look at the world of Riley’s mind. The land of imagination is no longer a whimsical wonderland, but a production line for terrifying possibilities. Watching Riley’s changes manifest is heartbreaking in some scenes but funny in others, like when the characters are unable to continue their journey because Riley’s smart mouth has caused a sar-chasm to open.

Inside Out 2 is full of clever ideas, emotional moments, and a story that’s compelling. Because it repeats so many elements, it inevitably had a lesser impact. Still its sure to make several audience members feel uncomfortably seen, as it gives life to intimate moments that feel like they could only exist in our own minds.

Seen in 4DX, the feelings of a 13-year-old girl may not sound all that exciting, but the journey of Joy and her fellow emotions across Riley’s mind is full of action, with one scene in particular making great use of 4DX’s motion, light and water effects.

Rating: Big Screen Watch