Contrary to the usual skepticism surrounding Disney sequels, Inside Out 2 has managed to break the mold. It has been warmly embraced by Disney fans, dispelling any notions of it being a mere cash grab or a ploy to boost merchandise sales. The film has not only been well-received but has also garnered a significant number of positive reviews, a testament to its quality and appeal.

The film returns to the main character from the first movie, Riley, who is now thirteen and amid the hormonal throws of puberty. She’s invited to a three-day hockey camp with her two middle school friends run by a local high school. Riley is torn between fitting in with the cool “grown-up” high school team or staying true to herself and her old friends.

In Inside Out 2, we’re introduced to four new emotions that appear in Riley’s brain: Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Ennui. Anxiety is the main focal point of the movie, where Sadness is in the first one. Anxiety describes herself as what Riley needs to plan for the future, and the one who can protect her from the scary stuff that Riley can’t see.

Being Thirteen

Anyone who has been thirteen has struggled with the themes of this movie. They see themselves in Riley, always worried about being able to fit in and trying to decide what kind of person they are. They push away people who are trying to help them and worry about being cool. Any minor fault or failure is huge and world-ending, as Riley worries about making the toughest high school hockey team and believes that if she doesn’t, none of her dreams will come true.

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Inside Out 2 was definitely a tearjerker for many in the audience, with many of the complications of young teen life hitting a little too close to home. The mistakes made and the crippling second-hand embarrassment of trying to figure out a cool way to walk was holding up a mirror to the middle school days.

What the Movie Does Right

By personifying anxiety, this movie does what other mental health themes don’t. Anxiety is not a villain in this film. Although she may seem antagonistic, she’s not outright wrong. The other emotions in the movie continuously point out that anxiety would have a plan for whatever conundrum they’re in. She’s the planner, for better or for worse.

Like every emotion, she’s only problematic when in saturation. Too much of anything isn’t good for someone. Anxiety helps Riley prepare for other, more realistic situations that she can easily deal with in the present. When Riley is concerned about whether or not she’ll make the hockey team, Joy helps her regulate by making her focus on what they can control at that moment, moving their attention away from the doomsday-level outcomes to a Spanish test Riley has to focus on.

Inside Out 2 was a tasteful and accurate portrayal of the reality of anxiety and how to best cope with it. They showed subtle ways to cope with an anxiety attack by focusing on things you can feel, grounding you in the real world, and trying not to spiral out of control when you feel anxiety ramping up. The messaging isn’t preachy or inaccurate and reaches many audience members. Many fans of the film genuinely loved how these emotions were portrayed and hope for another well-done sequel.

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Next: Best Non-Disney Animated Movies

Great Cast
A nice step into the next phase of Riley’s life
Anxiety and sarcasm are great additions

Review Summary

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