Comfortable and Furious

Inside Out 2

All of us have memories of our early teenage years. Middle school. Puberty. Suddenly caring far too much about clothes and hair. Caring even more what other kids think of our clothes and hair. And the most terrifying thing – going to high school. It was a lot to deal with and Inside Out 2 is here to remind you that PTSD from those years is never fully cured.

Riley – the vessel of our favorite anthropomorphic emotions, Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Disgust – is a couple years into her life in San Francisco and adjusted quite well since Joy stopped being a console hog. Riley has two close friends named Bree and Grace, the three of them kicking butt in school, hockey, and friendship. When the girls are all invited to participate in a hockey camp run by the high school hockey coach, life couldn’t be better. The night before leaving for camp, Riley goes to sleep perfectly happy.

During this time, we are introduced to a new concept called the Sense of Self. Like the core memory islands in Inside Out, the Sense of Self becomes the focal point of this film. Joy and her partners have been building Riley’s Sense of Self from positive memories and jettisoning negative memories (via a giant pneumatic tube) to the ‘back’ of Riley’s mind. Their goal is to build Riley’s Sense of Self in such a way that Riley believes she is a good person.

MRAAA! MRAAA! MRAAA! MRAAA! That’s the puberty alarm on the console sounding off and startling the five emotions. When Riley’s mother wakes Riley up to go to camp, Riley behaves as if she is two years into being a hormone-fueled monster and experiences all the standard puberty things (zits, body odor, mood swings, etc.) in the space of fifteen seconds. No matter what they do on the console, the emotions helplessly watch as Riley overreacts to everything.

While a little funny, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to spend some time having fun introducing the five emotions themselves to puberty. I imagine that fifteen-second scene was originally a multi-minute montage showing a more accurate beginning to Riley’s puberty, spread out over a few weeks. Picture a bunch of anthropomorphic hormones dancing atop the console while others are wrestling with the five emotions in the command center, all with Riley on the screen in the background experiencing everything puberty has to offer. Hey Pixar – I have some free time and many ideas; call me.

After some mind workers barge in and upgrade the console, four new emotions show up – Anxiety, Embarrasment, Ennui, and Envy. Like Joy is to the core emotions, Anxiety is the leader of the new emotions and immediately starts monopolizing the console. Yeah, that sounds about right. Is there any teenager alive that isn’t just a ball of nervousness, constantly on edge, waiting for the worst to happen? When Anxiety banishes the five core emotions, Riley becomes that nervous ball.

And what is Riley anxious about? Impressing the coach. Impressing the older girls on the team. Saying exactly the right thing at the right time. Positioning herself to have friends in high school (since Bree and Grace informed Riley that they are going to a different high school than Riley). And all of this at the expense of abandoning Bree and Grace. In other words, to be liked. Yeah, that sounds about right.

As was done in the first film, Inside Out 2 does a great job of conceptualizing emotions and ideas into understandable and relatable visuals. The Sense of Self, the mind vault, the back of the mind, memory storage, even the characters themselves embody their namesake emotion. Tying that all into the trials of our teenage years is done nearly to perfection (well, maybe not the sar-chasm, though that was at least funny). While you may not cry your eyes out like you did at the first film, you’ll still empathize with Riley as all of her emotions to come to a head. You might even get the shakes because Riley’s experiences hit really close to home.

Rating: Worth every penny, even if it does add to your discussion points with your therapist.







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