Review: Inside Out 2: A Heartfelt Dive Into the Emotional Labyrinth of Adolescence

Inside Out 2

Review: Inside Out 2: A Heartfelt Dive Into the Emotional Labyrinth of Adolescence

Pixar Studios has once again outdone itself with “Inside Out 2,” a poignant sequel that deftly navigates the intricate emotional terrain of adolescence. As a father living with a pre-teen daughter, I found this film resonating on multiple levels, reflecting the complex journey both parents and children undertake during these transformative years.

“Inside Out 2” picks up where its predecessor left off, with Riley now on the cusp of her teenage years. This time, she embarks on an adventure to hockey camp, a pivotal experience that acts as a backdrop for her emotional upheaval. The film introduces four new emotions—Anxiety, Envy, Embarrassment, and Ennui—adding nuanced layers to the narrative and providing a deeper exploration of the human psyche.

Related: Gear Up for All-New Emotions with Inside Out 2 Merchandise!

From the opening scenes, it’s clear that Pixar has matured the storyline to align with Riley’s development. The familiar headquarters in her mind is now bustling with the new emotions, creating a dynamic interplay that mirrors the complexity of adolescence. The film’s animation is nothing short of spectacular, capturing both the grandeur of Riley’s internal world and the subtleties of her external experiences.


Anxiety, voiced by the ever-expressive Maya Hawke, is a jittery, wide-eyed addition who constantly frets over potential mishaps and failures. Her presence is immediately felt as Riley faces the daunting challenges of adolescence. As a parent, I saw reflections of my fears and insecurities, making Anxiety’s character all the more relatable and impactful.

Envy, portrayed by the sharp-tongued and sly Ayo Edibiri, adds a cuter, more adorable side to the emotional ensemble. She injected a very relatable take on the emotion, especially when Riley sees her peers excelling in ways she struggles to. This new emotion is a stark reminder of the pressures kids face in a world where social media amplifies the achievements of others, often to the detriment of their own self-worth.

Related: New Inside Out 2 Happy Meal Toys Now at McDonalds

Embarrassment, brought to life by Paul Walter Hauser, is both humorous and painfully relatable. He is the one who blushes and cringes at every awkward misstep Riley makes, from tripping on the ice to saying the wrong thing in front of new friends. His character’s physical comedy and kindness had us and the entire theater laughing out loud.

Then there’s Ennui, a sophisticated and somewhat aloof character voiced by French Actress Adèle Exarchopoulos. Ennui embodies the existential dread and disinterest that often accompanies adolescence. His lethargic demeanor and ironic commentary serve as a counterbalance to the more frantic energies of the other emotions, offering a contemplative take on the inner life of a teenager grappling with how to play it cool.

Related: All-New Pixar’s Inside Out 2 Collection Coming from Scentsy

The film’s central theme revolves around Riley’s struggle with self-worth and her core values. Hockey camp, a symbol of her passion and dedication, becomes a testing ground for her resilience and identity. The interactions between the emotions are beautifully orchestrated, illustrating the push and pull of conflicting feelings that define the teenage experience.

One of the most compelling aspects of “Inside Out 2” is its nuanced portrayal of relationships. Riley’s connections with her teammates, coaches, and even her parents are depicted with a raw honesty that has become the hallmark of the Inside Out franchise. The film doesn’t shy away from showing the misunderstandings and emotional chasms that can develop, but it also underscores the importance of empathy and communication.

As a father, watching Riley navigate these relationships brought a lump to my throat. The film serves as a gentle yet powerful reminder of the importance of being present and supportive, even when it’s difficult to understand what our children are going through.

“Inside Out 2” also excels in its soundtrack, composed by Michael Giacchino. The music seamlessly blends with the narrative, enhancing the emotional weight of each scene. When we are hit with the familiar musical refrain, the crescendo of the film’s score augments the emotional gravitas of the moment playing out on the screen. Tears.

The film culminates in a climactic hockey game where Riley must confront her fears and insecurities head-on. As the emotions in her head work together to support her, it’s a cathartic reminder of the power of resilience and the importance of embracing all aspects of oneself, even the uncomfortable emotions.

Related: Anger Popcorn Bucket and More Coming to Regal Theaters for Pixar’s Inside Out 2

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Pixar has once again delivered a near-perfect film with “Inside Out 2.” It’s a deeply moving, beautifully crafted exploration of adolescence that will resonate with viewers of all ages. For parents, it offers a window into the often tumultuous inner world of their children, fostering a greater understanding and empathy. For pre-teens, it provides a validating and comforting depiction of their experiences.

We give “Inside Out 2” a score of 93 out of 100. It’s a testament to Pixar’s ability to blend heart, humor, and profound insight into an unforgettable cinematic experience. This film is not just a sequel; it’s a heartfelt continuation of a story that reminds us all of the complexity and beauty of growing up.

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Podcasting on Chip and Company Podcast Network. Northeast USA Entertainment and Events media correspondent. Covering Broadway, conventions, film, and television.
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