Review: 'Inside Out 2' is a well-earned trip back into Riley's mind

The emotions are back in Pixar's "Inside Out 2."

The emotions are back in Pixar's "Inside Out 2." (Pixar via CNN)


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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

In 2015, my wife and I sat down with our two small children and watched "Inside Out." I was not ready for the emotional assault I was about to experience. That movie affected me in many ways — and they were all good. The creativity was off the charts, but the story cut to my soul, like a knife through hot butter.

I was hesitant when I saw Disney and Pixar were making a sequel. It's not that I was against visiting that world again, but more worried it was such an incredible trip the first time around, I didn't want to sour the memory with something that didn't live up to the original.

I have now seen the sequel, and while it may not be as good as the original, at least in my book, I'm happy we got a second trip into Riley's mind.

Here are some reasons I loved "Inside Out 2" and one reason it didn't quite live up to its predecessor.

The story resonates

I have been less than thrilled with many Disney or Pixar offerings in the last few years. I don't want to get into an argument here, but I did not care for "Wish"; "Raya and the Last Dragon" was OK but not great; and I thought "Strange World" was a miss. I didn't hate "Luca," but I also didn't love it, and I'd rather not talk about "Turning Red." (I really did not like that movie). I was worried the storytelling that made Pixar, in particular, so fantastic, had been lost — but "Inside Out 2" brought it back.

Not only was I fully invested in Riley's emotional growth and adventure, but I was all in on Riley's personal story. As a former teenager and the father of a current teenager, the movie resonated deeply. The feelings of insecurity, hope and desperately trying to figure out who you are ... are universal experiences, and this movie captures them brilliantly.

I can't even count the number of times something played out on the screen with Riley's teenage drama, and my wife and I just stared at one another with a "We dealt with that earlier today" look. "Inside Out 2" tapped into a shared experience, making the movie memorable and impactful.

It's funny

"Inside Out 2" lost some of its original cast, which worried me a bit. Bill Hader did not return as Fear, and Mindy Kaling was absent as Disgust in this go-around. These two characters were replaced by Tony Hale and Liza Lapira, respectively. My worry was for naught, because they both did great work and none of the humor was lost from one movie to the other.

I laughed out loud several times and some one-liners will float around the Clyde household for some time. The new emotions added some great humor, as well. Embarrassment is a brilliant addition, and Anxiety gave us some great moments that often hit a little too close to home.

Also, two of my favorite characters in the franchise are Riley's mom and dad, particularly, their inner emotions. We only get a few moments with those characters, but they are some of my favorite scenes in this movie.

The only reason it wasn't as good as the original

I'm not sure if you can tell, but I really enjoyed "Inside Out 2." It still fell short of the original for me, but take that with a grain of salt, if you will. The first movie caught me so off guard and just resonated with my soul.

It packed a punch I did not think a film could and, because of that, it is one of my favorite movies. I don't know that the original is far superior to this new movie, but I was ready for that emotional resonance this time, and I wasn't caught off guard. For that simple reason, I wasn't moved as much by the sequel as by the initial "Inside Out."

Conclusion

This movie puts Pixar back on the right track, where, hopefully, it can stay. The film is funny, insightful, moving and memorable. It didn't live up to the original in my book — but my wife said she liked it more than the first movie.

"Inside Out 2" is a great excuse to get out and spend an evening at the theater with the family.

"Inside Out 2" is officially rated PG for some thematic elements.

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John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about.

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