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Film Review: Inside Out 2

Welcome back to the blog readers. This is not something I was able to talk about, but Inside Out (2015) became my favorite animated film, and showed me that animated films could be more complex than being just for children. When I heard a sequel was in the works, I definitely was excited to be transported back to the head of Riley and revisit her emotions. Would this film maintain the charm of the original film, or would it get lost in the stream of consciousness, never to be seen again? Stick around to find out.

Inside Out 2 was directed by Kelsey Mann from a screenplay by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein and a story by Mann and LeFauve. The film features the voice talents of Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, and Ayo Edebiri. In the film, Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Disgust attempt to stop Anxiety and other new emotions from corrupting Riley as she prepares for high school.

Inside Out is my favorite animated film so this film had a pretty high bar to meet, especially when most animated films I have seen since, like Minions: The Rise of Gru and Lightyear (both 2022), have failed to meet the benchmark. With that being said, I had some doubts going into this film about if it would even meet the standard of the original, and I believe that not only does it meet that bar, but it passes that bar and is now my favorite animated film of all time. Everything is a level-up from the original film, from the voice performances to the story to the animation itself.

I want to praise Amy Poehler for her vocal performance as Joy. Poehler has been a joy (no pun intended) to watch in this voice role, but I definitely have to admit that she leveled up in this film as we see a side to Joy that we had not seen in the previous film. I love how she still continues to be the motherly figure to all the emotions, and how the story continues to be told through her lens. If we ever get a sequel (and based on the box office, I think we will), I will keep coming back mainly to see her in this role.

Next, I want to talk about Maya Hawke's voice role as Anxiety. To me, Anxiety was the best character in this film and one that we will be talked about for a while. Hawke is known for her role in Stranger Things (2016-), but I think she will be known for this role, which was so damn meaty. There is such a complexity to the role of Anxiety that is just so relatable to people and is one that I would honestly give Maya Hawke an award for.

Next, I want to talk a bit about the animation of the film. Pixar has truthfully been leveling up in terms of their animation, even though I have not been seeing the films because animated films are normally not my cup of tea. But I do believe that the animation of this film is the cleanest I have possibly ever seen in an animated film. There were no gaps in quality, and there were no technical errors. It was absolutely awesome to see, and I cannot wait to see how we advance in the technology going forward (but no AI!).

Finally, I want to talk about the story of this film. Even though there is no Bing Bong, there is still a high level of emotion that comes from this film. And it all stems from the emotion of anxiety. If I can be candid with you guys for a minute, I am someone who has struggled mightily with anxiety, and this film made me feel something I have not felt watching a film in a long time. I found myself relating to this film in a way I did not think I would. Especially with one of the lines, where one of the characters says "Maybe that's what happens when you grow up; you feel less joy." The end of the film also got me close to tearing up, especially because these are things that I have felt and things that I have said to myself. I believe this will be the most relatable film of the year for a lot of people.

In conclusion, Inside Out 2 is a masterful upgrade over the first film with more relatability and stellar voice performances, especially from Maya Hawke. Thank you all for reading, and I will see you for the next post.

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