Thursday, May 23, 2024

A First Look At Pixar’s “Inside Out 2”

In the nine years since its release, “Inside Out” has remained one of the most acclaimed Pixar films in the studio’s history. In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, Pete Docter’s movie often tops lists of people’s favorite Pixar movies. The film gave audiences a new language to talk about their emotions, and the idea of “core memories” is now a fixture in our culture. Now, with plenty of pressure behind it, comes “Inside Out 2,” arriving in theaters June 14th. Next Best Picture had the pleasure to visit Pixar Animation Studios to get an early look at the highly anticipated sequel, and so far, it looks to be another hit.

Pete Docter isn’t returning to direct “Inside Out 2,” but remains an Executive Producer on the picture. Taking his place is longtime Pixar Story Supervisor Kelsey Mann who is making his feature directorial debut, tackling a script from “Inside Out” screenwriter Meg LeFauve alongside Dave Holstein (“Kidding”). In Mann’s introduction to the first 30 minutes of “Inside Out 2,” he displayed old pictures of his birthdays as a kid between ages 5 and 17. He pointed out how his smiles grew smaller as he got older, more self-conscious, and withdrawn, even on what should have been one of the happiest days of the year.

What happens in those teenage years? What subdues the joy in our eyes? “You know, it’s all about fitting in at that age,” Mann described. “We kind of worry so much about what others think about us at that age. And it kind of turns on and never goes away. You just have to manage it, which is a big reason why I’m making this movie.” As Mann thought about what story could be next for Riley in the “Inside Out” world, he knew exploring the big emotions of puberty had to be next.

As with the first film, the emotions take center stage inside Riley’s (Kensington Tallman) mind. Amy Poehler returns as Joy, the de facto leader of Riley’s emotions, alongside Phyllis Smith as Sadness and Lewis Black as Anger. Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling opted out of the sequel, replaced by Tony Hale (Fear) and Liza Lapira (Disgust). While Riley starts the film in a pretty similar emotional state to the first movie, it’s not long before puberty strikes and new emotions crash the party: Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Water Hauser), and Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), all seemingly led by Anxiety (Maya Hawke). They’re all phenomenal additions to the story, a perfect encapsulation of the emotions of a teenager. More interestingly, as puberty changes everything around, making Riley seem like a different person, these new emotions take on an almost villainous role. While there are a lot of characters to juggle, especially while conveying an additional story in the real world, the footage showcased a delicate balance between them all.

Tackling puberty in a sequel to “Inside Out” isn’t too surprising. The more impressive reveal is how “Inside Out 2” addresses a person’s belief system, something not seen in the first film. Similar to the way “core memories” helped illustrate the memories that make us who we are, “Inside Out 2” uses these experiences to shape a person’s belief system. Riley’s experiences help her believe her family loves her, and that her friends mean everything to her. They form beautiful, illuminated strings connected to her innermost self. It’s a gorgeous representation of who we are and will undoubtedly help viewers, young and old alike, think about what beliefs have shaped them over the years.

As with any Pixar film, the visuals are reliably exhilarating. While the early look at the film showcased only a few new environments, it blends the interior of Riley’s mind well with her external world. As puberty strikes, Riley’s in the middle of an important hockey camp that could set the tone for her high school years. She’s also facing the possibility of losing her best friends, both of whom are moving to a new school. It’s a tough time for the first inklings of Anxiety and Embarrassment.

Inside Out 2” premieres at a pivotal time in the studio’s history. Pixar has struggled in the last few years, along with many of Disney’s titles, to capture an audience like they used to. Last year, “Elemental” struggled with early reviews until positive word-of-mouth gave it a solid box office run. Historically, Pixar sequels have performed quite well, both critically and commercially. But from the early look Pixar gave us with “Inside Out 2,” it promises to live up to the remarkable benchmark of Docter’s first film when it premieres on June 14th, 2024.

Are you excited for the “Inside Out 2“? Do you think “Inside Out 2” will be an Oscar success, like the first film? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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