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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

Inside Out 2 is a heartwarming sequel with teenage emotions at the centre

The animated film features an ensemble voice cast including Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke and Ayo Edebiri

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 21.06.24, 04:26 PM
A scene from Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out 2, running at the theatres.

A scene from Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out 2, running at the theatres. IMDb

A decade after Inside Out, Disney-Pixar takes us back to the heartwarming world of personified emotions where little Riley has grown into a teenager and is dealing with more complex emotions.

Helmed by debutant director Kelsey Mann (the original movie was directed by Pete Docter), Inside Out 2 peels off the layers of confusion, hope and embarrassment of the teen years, offering moments of discomfort and insight in equal measure, and serving up a wholesome watch.

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The sequel kicks off with the optimistic Joy (Amy Poehler) and her team — Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale), and Disgust (Liza Lapira) — moving Riley’s worst memories to a remote area called the ‘back of the mind’ while storing the best moments in an underground lake. The glowing tendrils from the lake reach skyward, forming Riley’s core beliefs.

Now 13, Riley is compassionate, intelligent and, according to Joy, outstanding. The girl who once feared loneliness in her new Bay Area home now has a close-knit group of friends: Grace (Grace Lu) and Bree (Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green). The three are so tight that they’ve become a strong team on their hockey squad. They’ve even drawn the attention of Coach Roberts (Yvette Nicole Brown) who has invited them to a three-day camp where Riley’s idol, Val Ortiz (Lilimar), will be present. For Joy and her team, things couldn’t be better.

But Joy’s system faces a challenge she hadn’t anticipated — puberty. The onset of this phase is marked by a late-night alarm, heralding the arrival of new emotions: the quiet and brooding Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), the French Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), the clingy Envy (Ayo Edebiri), and the ambitious Anxiety (Maya Hawke).

When Riley discovers that her best friends will be attending a different high school next year, Anxiety takes over, attempting to reinvent Riley to impress Val. In the process, Anxiety banishes Riley’s current sense of self and suppresses Joy and the other familiar emotions. It falls to Joy and her companions to restore Riley’s original personality by navigating the depths of her mind before Anxiety completely disrupts her ability to function.

By introducing new characters — both emotions and humans — Inside Out 2 keeps us on our toes with delightful surprises. The script is a treasure trove of clever wordplay and inside jokes. Inside Out 2 excels in its ability to convey intricate concepts such as the repression of painful memories, trauma, and a fragmented sense of self.

The only niggle is that the new personified emotions don’t leave as lasting an impression as the main characters from the original film. Envy mostly fades into the background, and Embarrassment shines only momentarily. Ennui, after a strong start with its French-inspired moodiness, starts to lose its charm. It falls upon Joy and Anxiety to keep the viewers engaged, and you can trust Amy Poehler and Maya Hawke to spice things up with a nervous energy that’s central to the story.

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