‘Inside Out 2’ Review: An Emotionally Charged Story That Plays It Safe

The sequel to Disney/Pixar’s 2015 animated hit is a powerful companion to its predecessor.

Disney and Pixar are back bringing audiences together to explore our deepest emotions. Inside Out 2, the sequel to Pixar’s mega-popular Inside Out, continues its tale of expressing the emotions one has when dealing with change. Framed by its hockey-themed, heartfelt adventure, Inside Out 2 beautifully illustrates the hardships of being a teenager living with anxiety.

‘Inside Out 2’ Tackles the Emotional Rollercoaster of Being a Teenager

Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust by the control panel screaming at the alarm | Agents of Fandom
Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust are awakened to reality now that Riley is a teen. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

Considering Inside Out left off with a satisfying story of Riley (Kensington Tallman) overcoming the struggle of moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, Inside Out 2 deals with her anxiety of being a teenager trying to fit in with her new friends at hockey camp. As Riley enters this new phase in life, her emotions Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale), and Disgust (Liza Lapira) grow up with her. However, this transition comes with unexpected changes: Riley’s new emotions.

These new emotions, led by Anxiety (Maya Hawke), cause turmoil in Riley’s life, yet leave a complexity that continues to make Riley incredibly relatable. This film excels in showing how one’s emotions, new and old, mature with age, and tackles them from both Riley’s perspective and her original emotions inside Headquarters.

Screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein cleverly embellish the story by adding charismatic humor and callbacks to the original film. They also satisfyingly embrace the fluctuating, anxious, and awkward teenage feelings Riley now has. Inside Out 2 flourishes when focusing on the important and complicated emotions that control Riley, while simultaneously exemplifying the adversity and joyfulness of being a teenager.

‘Inside Out 2’ Continues Pixar’s Beautiful Trademark Animation

Riley with her friends Grace and Bree celebrating after winning their hockey game in Inside Out 2 | Agents of Fandom
Hockey fans will be pleased with the stunning hockey sequences this film delivers. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

The animation in this Pixar film remains consistent with its predecessor. The attention to detail, especially when referencing the obvious elements from the first film, was cleverly exceptional, however. Additionally, Inside Out 2 opts for a familiar style of animation, which can be compared to that of Nickelodeon’s cartoon series Dora the Explorer, as well as the arcade game Mortal Kombat. These were refreshing to see, as they were meant to reflect a specific memory from Riley’s youth.

With a hockey rink being one of the film’s focal settings, the animation sequences in which Riley and her teammates are playing the sport are satisfyingly authentic. The stunning little details the animators add to showcase the fast-paced ice skills are reminiscent of how hockey is currently played in the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL).

Maya Hawke’s Anxiety Steals the Show in ‘Inside Out 2’

Anxiety, standing in front of the control panel used to manage Riley's emotions introducing herself to Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger in Inside Out 2 | Agents of Fandom
Maya Hawke’s Anxiety is the anxious new leader of the new emotions. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

While the returning cast of Inside Out mentioned above are as wonderful as their beloved characters, the sequel’s standout is none other than Stranger Things star Maya Hawke. Hawke completely transforms into Anxiety, giving an impressive voice performance that truly represents the rapid, intense feeling that can take over all emotions in any situation.

The new emotions, Envy, Ennui, and Embarassment played by Ayo Edebiri, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Paul Walter Hauser respectively are also lovely additions to the sequel. Together with the original cast, Inside Out 2’s ensemble adds so much depth as they emotionally express the hilarious, heartfelt, and chaotic moments that Riley experiences during the film’s events.

‘Inside Out 2’ Is a Delightful Film for Both Adults and Children

Joy and Anxiety dance inside Riley's mind in Inside Out 2 | Agents of Fandom
Inside Out 2 is a film to enjoy with the whole family. Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

If there’s one thing Pixar can nail down, it’s crafting a film made for all ages. This sequel powerfully displays emotions that adults can reflect on and children, like Riley, can learn to understand. Accompanied by the gorgeous animation, brilliantly written script, and enthusiastic voice cast, Inside Out 2 deepens the layers of the exploration of growing up and understanding all the emotions that make us who we are.

Inside Out 2 premieres in theaters on June 14. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest entertainment news and reviews.

'Inside Out 2' Review

'Inside Out 2' Review
4.5 5 0 1
4.5 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • The film contains stunning visual animation throughout.
  • Maya Hawke puts on an incredible voice performance.
  • A beautiful story that will make audiences laugh and tear up.
  • Exciting new emotions are perfect alongside the original.

The Bad

  • At times the emotional depth doesn't hit like the first, but when it does, it's fantastic.
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