de facto film reviews 3.5 stars

Inside Out 2, the sequel to the brilliant 2015 feature, Inside Out, is everything a sequel should be and more. It takes the characters and situations in new directions, growing them naturally and giving us a story of growing up that is both fresh and familiar. It is insightful, funny and touching, often all at once. The visuals are occasionally awe inspiring, particularly the use of color. The voice acting is perfectly suited to the characters and story. Each plot and story beat, when it comes to a resolution, has been clearly defined from start to finish. There are no cheats. Everything is set up, subtly or otherwise, and everything resonates precisely as intended. This is one of the rare sequels that could be considered the superior product over the original.

Why is that the case, you might ask, and the answer is because of how deftly it combines everything mentioned above. It is because the film works as metaphor and allegory in ways that, ion other films, too often come across heavy handed but here makes not only perfect sense but are smooth and satisfying. You will laugh, you will think, you will feel, and you might just shed a tear or two.

Inside Out 2 (2024) - IMDb Courtesy WALT DISNEY STUDIOS

This is a film about growing up and letting go. It is a film about being a whole person, a complex one, and understanding the positive and negative. It is about how that co-exists within us and informs, deeply, who we are. It is about choice, and will, and letting go.  This is apparent in both what we see with the “emotions” inside the heads of our characters and the characters themselves. The film makes a point about the connection between logic, belief and emotion, as regards the creation of personhood. How much you enjoy the film will depend on how willing you are to go along for the ride with this thesis.

Heady stuff for a kid’s film? This is not a kid’s movie. This is aimed at older children, ten or twelve on up. Yes, there is silly stuff that little ones will enjoy, but the film will largely fly over the head of younger children. There are not many four or five year olds who will appreciate jokes about nostalgia and aging. There are plenty of adults and tweens or teens who will greatly appreciate an examination of the desire to fit in and find a new place without letting go of what is essentially you. Indeed, can that change, and should it? Does it have to? The film asks some universal and, frankly, serious questions about the process of leaving childhood behind.

Inside Out 2

Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

With respect to Turning RedSoul and both Toy Story 4-maybe the best of the sequels-and Coco, this is the best Pixar film since Finding Dory. Original co-writer Meg LeFauve has returned and sown new ground, while director Kelsey Mann, replacing Pete Docter, does a commendable job. The voice cast, new and old, seamlessly step into their roles, or return to them. And yet, the film suffers a tiny bit not from something it is guilty of but from audience expectation. This reviewer will not spoil what that means, but it has to do with how audiences are conditioned to expect certain things and your apprehension over assumptions may prevent you from enjoying what is playing out while it is playing out.

So, yes. See this film. See it by yourself, or take a loved one. Do not miss this. It is one of the best animated films of the past few years and potentially one of the truly great films of 2024.

INSIDE OUT is now playing in theaters.