Review: “Inside Out 2” satisfying sequel heading into puberty

Film flirts with preachy, but lands on funny and smart

Where: In theaters
What: Movie, 96 minutes.
When: Now
Genre: Animation
Judgement: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: High-quality cartoon, a great sequel to the original.

If you liked it Inside outyou are going to love Inside out 2which ably picks up the story of our heroine, Riley (Kensington Tallman), as she enters the dreaded puberty and unleashes a whole host of new ’emotions’ along the way.

Clever and just sentimental enough, cleverly drawn and brilliantly voiced, Inside out 2 takes us into the inner workings of a young woman’s brain as she approaches adolescence. But the feelings that propelled the younger girl are not enough for her in this transition, although it is wonderful to have the wise, original emotions back: the ever-optimistic Joy (Amy Poehler), the wonderfully sad sack Sadness (Phyllis Smith), the hilariously infuriating Anger (Lewis Black), the contemptuously disapproving Disgust (Liza Laira) and Tony Hale hilariously replacing Bill Hader as Fear.

The story alternates between “real life” as Riley continues to cope with her family’s move to San Francisco and attends a hockey camp for league tryouts and the inner workings of her mind, beautifully illustrated as a color-drenched world with hints of the ruthless massiveness of Fritz Langs Metropolis.

Fear (Maya Hawke) is the most brutal – and hilarious – of the new emotions unleashed on Riley as she grows older; the character’s wild hair, crazed grin, and ruthless bug eyes are the embodiment of out-of-control fear. Shyness (Paul Walter Hauser) is admirably indecisive, along with the treacherous Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and, personal favorite, the funny, oh-so-bored, French-accented Ennui (Adéle Exarchopoulos).

Inside out 2 manages to convey ‘life lessons’ without becoming too preachy or intruding on Christian television storylines about ‘living well’. Riley is a fully developed character who goes through significant changes, including gaining more control over her own life as she grows older and determining how she fits in with her family.

Envy and Anger provide plenty of hearty laughs, while Fear is sweetly amusing. Ennui is a quiet, sensible heckler, her whispered comments providing plenty of funny rewards for those who pay attention.

There are plenty of clever asides and nods to the audience in a film that isn’t afraid to parody itself, or to the art of animation to pull off a joke. Probably too intense for younger children, it will speak directly to children the same age as Riley, with plenty of laughs and insight for older viewers. Plus it looks so damn cool, and the concept is beyond trippy.