Inside Out 2 movie review: Pixar adds new teenage emotions to coming-of-age sequel

3.5/5 stars

With apologies to Soul and Turning Red, 2015’s Inside Out was arguably the last Pixar masterpiece. Masterminded by the magician that is director Pete Docter, the film took you inside the inner landscape of a young girl, personifying her emotions.

Now it’s time for Round 2. Riley (voiced by Kensington Tallman) is 13 and about to be beset by a whole new set of emotions as adolescence hits her like the proverbial avalanche of bricks.

Inside, trying to steer her personality, is the eternally upbeat Joy (Amy Poehler), with help from Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale) and Disgust (Liza Lapira).

Joy is tidying up some of Riley’s less palatable memories when a bunch of workmen raid their HQ, fiddling with the controls and erecting a sign: puberty is messy. It is, of course, the natural step for Inside Out 2 – taking Riley through that most awkward coming-of-age stage.

Within seconds, the orange-hued Anxiety (Maya Hawke) appears, flanked by Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) and, amusingly, Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a Gallic figure who just expresses boredom and disdain.

Together they want to change Riley’s sense of self – which soon means she is dumping her old friends and trying to get in with the cool kids at the ice hockey camp she is attending.

A still from Inside Out 2. Photo: Disney/Pixar

This being Pixar, the joy – excuse the pun – is in the details. As the emotions traverse Riley’s interior, a huge, volatile gorge – “Sar-Chasm” – opens up as Riley starts acting all sarcastic to impress her new friends.

They also arrive at “Mount Crushmore”, a rocky monument to all of Riley’s secret girl crushes. Not to be outdone on the puns, Hawke’s angst-ridden character is settled down with a nice cup of “Anxi-Tea”.

Debutant director Kelsey Mann does a solid job of replicating the intelligence of the first film, even if the innovation and originality isn’t quite there second time around.

A still from Inside Out 2. Photo: Disney/Pixar

Riley’s attempts to ingratiate herself with her new hockey buddies also isn’t all that exciting – a better story could have been found. About the only dramatic eruption might be the spot that is permanently placed on Riley’s chin.

That said, the new emotions, particularly Anxiety, bring real flavour to the film, while there are some nice nods to old-school animation – including a Final Fantasy-like game character that Riley had the hots for.

Doubtless Inside Out 2 plays well for adults and kids alike. It just does not quite touch the genius of its predecessor.

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