Photograph: Pixar
  • Film
  • Recommended


Inside Out 2

4 out of 5 stars

The life of Riley gets more complicated in this joyful and bold sequel

Phil de Semlyen

Time Out says

Sparky, kaleidoscopic and boldly honest about the tougher side of growing up, Inside Out 2 is Pixar’s most profound and moving movie since, well, Inside Out. Kudos, of course, to Turning Red, with which it’d make a perfect puberty prep double bill, but this cerebral coming-of-age adventure feels like the studio rediscovering its old mojo and putting it to dazzling use. 

It kicks off with a quick catch-up to reintroduce the five anthropomorphised emotions who control the now 13-year-old San Francisco high-schooler Riley. There’s the upbeat Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), morose Sadness (Phyllis Smith), nervy Fear (Tony Hale replacing Bill Hader), snarky Disgust (Liza Lapira taking over from Mindy Kaling) and the volcanic Anger (Lewis Black). They’re the basic set of emotions who now harmoniously collaborate over a sci-fi console to help her navigate late childhood. 

Only, as the flashing ‘Puberty Alarm’ on the HQ console indicates, she’s not a kid anymore. A clutch of new emotions arrive, led by the high-energy Anxiety (voiced with ten-cups-of-coffee exuberance by Maya Hawke) and egged on by Envy (The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri), while Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos) provides sardonic commentary from the sofa and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) hides inside his hoodie.

As Riley heads off to ice-skating camp with her besties and a posse of daunting older kids she’s keen to impress, all that delicate balance gets thrown out the window – literally – just when she needs it most.

The inside-the-mind storyline is a bit samey, with Joy and the three other OG emotions banished to the back of Riley’s brain and having to get back to the console before the usurping Anxiety can wreak too much havoc. But there’s even more balls in the air than in Inside Out, and debut director Kelsey Mann and co-writers Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein juggle the dual narratives with a breezy elan that belies just how complicated it all is – even before you throw in a host of madcap new characters (a talking bum bag called Pouchy is Pixar’s most unhinged creation since Forky.)

And unlike most sequels, the world-building here is never done. Riley’s mind is an ever more complex, conflicted place and cranky, Noo Yoik-style construction workers beaver away, erecting new memory towers, skirting around the Sar-chasm (a killer pun that yields one of the funniest scenes). Joy, Sadness, Fear and Disgust race, fly and freefall through that hinterland in ways that will delight younger audience members. And for young teenagers (and their parents), the movie’s themes of self-acceptance, peer pressure and discomfort in your own skin will pack a real punch. 

The result is an empathetic, emotionally candid treat – Pixar’s own brains trust back at full capacity

In cinemas worldwide Jun 14.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Kelsey Mann
  • Screenwriter:Meg LeFauve, Dave Holstein
  • Cast:
    • Maya Hawke
    • Phyllis Smith
    • Amy Poehler
    • Ayo Edebiri
    • Tony Hale
    • Adèle Exarchopoulos
    • Kensington Tallman
You may also like
You may also like