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While Inside Out 2 is a perfectly entertaining movie for the entire family, the picture’s narrative arc and central message are mostly a lazy and thus disappointing copy-paste of the first film.

Outside of the Toy Story franchise Pixar has a spotty sequel record, often relying on the same emotional beats of the original to fashion the follow-up. Inside Out proves to be no exception to that rule.

The tale picks up not long after Inside Out’s final moments, with protagonist Riley on the cusp of puberty, which sends a whole bunch of new characters invading her inner emotional core, sidelining Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness.

The design and purpose of these new emotions provide a lot of fun, from Anxiety’s manic manipulations to the relatable shyness of Embarrassment and – my personal favourite of the entire bunch – the throwaway sarcasms of Ennui, voiced with exquisite drollness by French actress Adèle Exarchopoulos.

And yet, the amount of exposition – especially in the opening 20 minutes – is exasperating and the journey the characters are taken on hews frustratingly close the events of the first film, evoking so much déjà-vu it is at times hard to enjoy Inside Out 2 on its own merits, even more so because the picture’s moral lesson is hardly distinguishable from the 2015 movie.

Is that a harsh verdict for a film that contains enough joys, animated magic and pleasing moments to give you a great time in the cinema? Perhaps. But throughout the years Pixar has set the bar so high, mediocrity simply will not do.

release: 2024

director: Kelsey Mann

starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman


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