'Inside Out 2' review: Growing up is an emotional journey

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
'Inside Out 2' review: Growing up is an emotional journey
Scene from "Inside Out 2"
Disney - Pixar

MANILA, Philippines — Pixar journeys back into Riley Andersen's mind in "Inside Out 2" as her core emotions deal with the changes that come with growing up, which includes new and complex emotions.

Set a year after the end of 2015's "Inside Out," Riley is enjoying life in San Francisco, remaining close with her parents and playing hockey with best friends Bree and Grace.

The core emotions group of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear are managing well inside Riley's mind, even fashioning a section dubbed the Sense of Self which molds Riley's entire being and beliefs.

Riley will soon enter high school where she has a chance to join an exemplary hockey team, but puberty kicks in and with it brings a new bunch of emotions — Anxiety, Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment.

With Riley's future on the line, emotions will literally clash, as if being a young teenager navigating life wasn't hard enough already.

"Inside Out" was truly a spectacular triumph for Pixar, its depiction of human psychology appreciated by audiences of every age, earning the studio's seventh Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

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Director Pete Docter, screenwriters Josh Cooley and Meg LeFauve, and Filipino-American Ronnie del Carmen were also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, which speaks to the film's creativity and ingenuinity that truly reflected Pixar as a company.

Such high success has been lacking of late, but it can be confidently said "Inside Out 2" is Pixar's best outing since "Turning Red" (coincidentally another coming-of-age film that revolved around adolescence).

The big concern going in was how could Pixar artist Kelsey Mann in his directorial debut and television writer Dave Holstein join LeFauve in expanding further on Riley and her emotions.

Puberty is a topic that is both fascinating and cringe-worthy to see unravel onscreen, and Pixar pulls it off with expectedly improved animation and a heartwarming story that strikes viewers no matter how old they are.

Joy (Amy Poehler) and Anxiety (Maya Hawke) butt heads on what's best for Riley, and this dynamic is all too real for people who've gone through adolesence especially in the 21st century.

What "Inside Out 2" does so well apart from more hilarious areas in the minds — Sar-Chasm, Nostalgia, well-kept secrets — is how it visualizes the internal processes of teenage life for younger audiences while letting older ones relate on levels that feel close to home.

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Poehler, Phyllis Smith's Sadness, and Lewis Black's Anger carry on their enjoyable characterizations from the previous film which newcomers Tony Hale (replacing Bill Hader for Fear) and Filipino-American Liza Lapira (replacing Mindy Kaling for Disgust) are able to match.

Of the new emotions which also include Ayo Edebiri as Envy, Adèle Exarchopoulos as Ennui, and Paul Walter Hauser as Embarrassment, it is Hawke's Anxiety that really stands out because of her panicky depiction of processing every possible negative outcome.

The Sense of Self plays a huge part in the film's story and how the sequel draws out its formation is a worthy successor to the original's embracing all kinds of memories.

There is a possibility for "Inside Out" to become Pixar's next "Toy Story" given how both tackle growth in somewhat similar degrees, the key being having creative visions at the helm going forward.

Hopefully Pixar has finally found its footing again in the realm of animated storytelling, and will look ahead to building better by admitting every past mistake and triumph led the studio to be what it is now.

RELATED: Real dad Chris Pratt gives life to Father's Day comedy 'Garfield'

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