Skip to content Skip to footer

Inside Out 2 Review

Almost ten years on from Pete Docter’s 2015 Oscar-winning first instalment, comes the long-awaited sequel from the beloved animation studio. With the hugely innovative original breaking ground by creatively and intelligently exploring the myriad of emotions and inner workings of the human brain, particularly of complex pre-teens, there’s understandably some apprehension from fans over the idea of a follow up. However, with a whole new set of emotions on board and a hugely relatable period to navigate, the sequel builds on its predecessor with a whole load more humour and visual gags.

Directed by Kelsey Mann, Inside Out 2 once again delves into the headquarters of teenager Riley’s (Kensington Tallman) mind as the 13-year-old heads to a hockey-themed summer camp ahead of starting high school. As a brand new phase approaches (hello, puberty), HQ undergoes an unexpected demolition to make way for a whole new group of complicated emotions led by a baggage-strewn Anxiety (Maya Hawkins), including Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser). When the newcomers don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with the original gang, they’re relegated to the depths of Riley’s mind, quite literally repressed and locked away with her deepest darkest secrets.

Although the second instalment doesn’t quite pack as much of an emotional punch, it’s still an incredibly creative, wonderfully animated & thought-provoking journey, with the script from writer Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein packed full of visual gags and even more laughs. The anthropomorphised gang attempt to cross literal sar-chasms on their rescue mission, traversing the stream of consciousness and disbanding cubicle workers predicting possible outcomes and futures, making hilarious new friends along the way in a brilliant sequence in a vault for repressed memories.

As the gang embark on their quest to retrieve Riley’s sense of self which she’s suppressing (courtesy of Anxiety), Mann navigates the incredibly relatable awkward teen years with an impressive balance of maturity, witty observations and chaotic comedy. Delving into the complexities of growing up, shaping your identity and all the while trying to fit in, this instalment is certainly more layered, expanding on the emotional beats of the first with another heartfelt message of self-acceptance and embracing all of our many experiences, facets and foibles – yes, even the incredibly messy ones.

While Sadness (Phyllis Smith) was steering the ship in the first outing, it’s certainly Anxiety’s show this time around, with Hawkins expertly portraying the complex and heightened emotion. Framing the narrative around the consequences of letting Anxiety take over is a clever move, with the well-meaning but spiralling emotion threatening to ruin one of Riley’s core moments playing out as this entry’s not-quite villain origin story. Furthermore, the incredibly moving manifestation and visual representation of an anxiety attack is also impressively realised, all the while handled with real sensitivity and relatable detail.

Once again, the endearing dynamic between Poehler’s endlessly optimistic Joy and Smith’s down but determined Sadness is a real treat to watch. Along with the brilliant Hawkins, new additions Edebiri, Hauser and Exarchopoulos all shine, but it’s the hilarious Final Fantasty-esque character Lance Slashblade (Yong Yea), 2d hand-drawn mascot Pouchy (James Austin Johnson) and the utterly adorable Nostalgia (June Squibb) who undoubtedly steal the show.


While it doesn’t quite hit the same emotional highs as the first outing, (due to the Bing Bong-shaped hole) Inside Out 2 is still one of Pixar’s best sequels in years. This is undoubtedly the film which many wish they had available when they were navigating their troublesome teenage years thanks to the incredibly insightful message. This would certainly make a fantastic double bill with the excellent recent Pixar coming-of-age flicks, Turning Red and Luca.