Review: Pixar delivers the feels with ‘Inside Out 2’


Has it really been nine years since Pixar’s “Inside Out” debuted in 2015?

It has, but the wait was worth it.

The charming animated picture, directed by Kelsey Mann from a script by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein, catches us up with Riley (Kensington Tallman), who has just turned 13 and is entering puberty and her feelings and emotions begin to run amok.

Most of us can relate.

That’s what is so special about the best of Pixar’s movies is that no matter our age, we can see a little bit of ourselves in the colorful and often hilarious characters that frolic across the screen. Pixar’s movies generally end up in an optimistic if not joyful place even if they run us through a gauntlet of emotions to get there.

“Inside Out 2” certainly does that. Riley’s emotions introduced in the first film all return: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Liza Lapria).

The crux of the film is the introduction of more complex emotions to Riley’s maturing psyche as her world begins to change with new friends, a new school, and a more complicated social situation. With her emotions amped up to 11 as puberty begins to transform our young heroine into someone neither she, her parents, or her emotions totally understand.

Four new emotions arrive on the scene in the forms of Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adele Exachopoulos), Embarrassment (Paul Walker Hauser), and their leader Anxiety (Maya Hawke), complicating matters greatly.

The new emotions team up to bottle up the older ones, which creates all sorts of embarrassing and hilarious chaos for young Riley as the two groups of emotions struggle for dominance, but ultimately find an equilibrium within Riley’s sense of self.

While the movie’s structure is very similar to the original, the introduction of the new emotions kept me on my toes and laughing throughout. Though the movie isn’t as inventive as the original, the sequel introduces enough new ideas to keep your focus off its similarities to the first film.

Is “Inside Out 2” as good as the original? That’s a hard comparison to make, and honestly it isn’t pertinent. The sequel, while familiar, had me laughing and smiling throughout because of its wit, humor, and innovative riffs on our thoughts and emotions.

It’s a delightful movie with enough wisdom and heart for adults and plenty of colorful and terrifically funny characters to keep its younger intended audience entertained.

Off the top of my head, the only theatrical release I’ve enjoyed more this year is “Dune: Part 2.”

(PG) 1 hr. 36 min.
Grade: B+

New in Local Theaters – June 14, 2024

  • Inside Out 2 (PG) 1 hr. 36 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight
  • Tuesday (R) 1 hr. 51 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square
  • Treasure (R) 1 hr. 52 min. (trailer)
    Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle
  • The Relentless Patriot (R) 1 hr. 34 min. (trailer)
    Malco Pinnacle

Favorite Films Year by Year (1984-80)

As we reach the mid to early 1980s in this countdown of the top-grossing, Oscar-winning, and my favorite films by year, it’s easy to see how the movies of this period imprinted on me in my pre- and early teens. My favorites tend to skew a bit more juvenile. I recognize more than a few of the movies I mentioned are flawed or even bad movies, but you like what you like, and some opinions get cemented while you are young.


Top Grossing: Ghostbusters
This Ivan Reitman comedy co-starring scriptwriters Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis was written with John Belushi in mind as the lead, but his overdose in 1982 sent them to rewrite mode with Bill Murray stepping in to star. I would love to see a version of the film with Belushi, but Murray owned the supernatural comedy along with Sigourney Weaver as his possessed romantic interest. From the catchy theme song by Ray Parker Jr. to the many spinoffs in animation, video games, comics and nearly every other collectible, the film created one of the greatest multimedia franchises in Hollywood history.

Oscar Winner: Amedeus
This period comedic drama stars Peter Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as his rival Salieri. The film directed by Milos Forman and written by Peter Shaffer is fiction, but that takes nothing away from the movie that pits Mozart’s genius against Salieri’s privileged mediocrity. The film has great charm and is quite funny. It is a joy to watch.

My Favorite: The Natural
Of the three major team sports, baseball is my least favorite, but I have to admit America’s greatest pastime is a terrific backdrop for movies. One of the best movies set around the sport is director Barry Levinson’s “The Natural,” starring Robert Redford. Redford is great as Roy Hobbs, a man who gets a second chance to make his dreams come true playing the sport he loves. The supporting cast is fantastic with Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilfred Brimley, Barbara Hershey and Richards Farnsworth. The cinematography by Caleb Deschanel and Randy Newman’s score are magical. When Hobbs’ home run triumphantly crushes the outfield lights and secures the pennant, it’s more thrilling than most actual baseball games.


Top Grossing: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Director Richard Marquand delivers a thrilling cap to producer George Lucas’ “Star Wars” trilogy as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) defeats the Emperor and redeems the soul of his father Darth Vader with the help of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), R2D2, Chewbacca, and C3PO. Star Wars has not been as thrilling or exciting since.

Oscar Winner: Terms of Endearment
This film is a weeper for the ages, tinged with a comedic undercurrent that gives this crushing drama just enough of a sweet coating to make it palatable. James L. Brooks directs from his own screenplay which was based on the Larry McMurtry novel. The film’s excellent cast features a who’s who of performers with Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, John Lithgow, and Jeff Daniels. That immense collection of talent makes the film one every film buff should see, but this movie is a tragedy. As finely crafted as it is, it’s not a fun watch.

My Favorite: The Outsiders
Some find this coming-of-age drama by director Francis Ford Coppola a bit trite, but I’ve loved the S.E. Hinton novel it is based on since I was in the seventh grade, and the film is an admirable adaptation with a great cast. C. Thomas Howell is the lead as Ponyboy, but the flashier roles went to Matt Dillon as Dally, Ralph Macchio as Johnny, and Patrick Swayze as Darry. Rob Lowe as Sodapop, Emilo Esteves as Two-Bit and Tom Cruise as Steve have less meaty roles, but still make an impact. Diane Lane is also memorable as Sherrie “Cherry” Valance a Socs infatuated by the greasers. The youthful angst is palpable in the movie, but so is the camaraderie. Though the movie is over 40 years old and the novel is nearly 60, both remain relatable.


Top Grossing: ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
One of my junior high buddies saw “ET” before I had the chance, and his review was that it was better than “Star Wars.” Those were strong words back in the summer of 1982. While I personally hold more affection for “Star Wars,” it would be hard to argue with my old pal’s summation. “ET” is a great adventure with a pretty meaningful message about divorce and found family woven just underneath its sci-fi surface. While the movie may not hold up as well today, it’s still a good watch if you haven’t seen it in a while.

Oscar Winner: Gandhi
The film won seven other Oscars besides Best Picture, including Best Director for Richard Attenborough and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley, who portrayed the titular character in the historically accurate biopic. Clocking in at three hours and 11 minutes, the movie covers a lot of ground. The film isn’t boring, but it is grindingly slow. I recommend tackling it in one-hour chunks.

My Favorite: Fast Times at Ridgemont High
If you would have asked me back in 1982, I would have no doubt told you that “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” was my favorite movie of the year. For my money, it’s the most exciting of all the Trek films. I probably didn’t even see the R-rated “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” until 1983 or ‘84 when it came on HBO. But the coming-of-age dramedy, directed by Amy Heckerling from the screenplay by Cameron Crowe, has grown into a favorite over time. The movie was my introduction to Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage and Eric Stoltz. I knew Ray Walston, who played hard-nosed history teacher Mr. Hand, from reruns of “Lost in Space.” The movie is full of classic high-school hijinks, but it has a lot of hurt, heart, and truth underneath, which I’ve found is a welcomed feature of most films Crowe has written or directed. So “Fast Times” is tops for me from 1982.


Top Grossing: Raiders of the Lost Ark
When the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas combined their efforts for this film, it was like striking gold. The movie, based on the cliffhanger movie serials of the 1930s and ’40s might feel a bit silly and over-the-top for today, but I dearly love it like so many others do. The film made a star of Harrison Ford, opening doors that likely would have been closed to him even after playing Han Solo in the “Star Wars” franchise. “Raiders” is a top-10 favorite movie of mine.

Oscar Winner: Chariots of Fire
For a film about Olympic-level runners, “Chariots of Fire” is a leisurely paced movie. It’s about the friendship between Jewish runner Harold Abrahams and Christian runner Eric Liddell, who earned the right to compete in the 1924 Olympics for Great Britain. As if competing on the Olympic stage isn’t challenging enough, both men’s religious beliefs create obstacles that each must overcome. The film, directed by Hugh Hudson, won Best Picture and three other Oscars, including Best Original Score by Vangelis. Anyone who has seen the movie has no doubt hummed that theme in their head while jogging or running at some point in their lives.

My Favorite: Raiders of the Lost Ark
“Raiders” is my favorite movie of 1981 for all the reasons mentioned above, but three other strong contenders were:
– “Superman II,” in which the Man of Steel (Christopher Reeve) must battle the Phantom Zone villains and Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) with the fate of Earth in the balance.
– “Excalibur,” an epic medieval fantasy retelling the legends of King Arthur, Guenevere, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, including their tragic yet inspiring demise.
– “An American Werewolf in London,” a humor-laced yet gory modern take on the werewolf legend, played out on the streets of London. Love the sound track which features a variety of moon-themed tunes.


Top Grossing: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
The second and arguably the best of the Star Wars films, “The Empire Strikes Back” amped up the action, romance, intrigue, and lore of George Lucas’ brainchild. Lucas stepped away from the director’s chair in favor of Irvin Kershner, while he was developing such innovations as Industrial Light and Magic, Lucas Films in-house effects shop, and THX Sound. Whereas “Star Wars” ends with a monumental victory for the Rebel Alliance, “Empire” concludes with a crushing defeat at the hands of Darth Vader and with space scoundrel Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in jeopardy. As a kid, I thought the reveal about Luke’s (Mark Hamill) parentage was a dirty lie that Vader was telling the Jedi apprentice. Vader being his daddy was just too much for my young mind to accept right away. At its heart, “Star Wars” is juvenile entertainment, but “The Empire Strikes Back” is juvenile entertainment at its zenith.

Oscar Winner: Ordinary People
There is absolutely nothing juvenile about “Ordinary People.” The film is frankly a depressing familial drama about loss, blame, and grief that was the directorial debut of Robert Redford. Alvin Sargent’s screenplay is well-crafted but bleak and heart-breaking like life sometimes is. Excellent performances by Timothy Hutton, Mary Tyler Moore, and Judd Hirsch all received Oscar nominations, and Hutton won in the Best Supporting Actor category as did Redford for Best Director. The film itself won for Best Picture. Donald Sutherland also gives a strong performance. The movie isn’t pleasant. It’s certainly not one to watch if you are feeling blue, but it is a riveting film about a family falling apart from the inside out.

My Favorite: “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”
“Empire” is my favorite movie from 1980 for everything I mentioned above. Yeah, I’m still a 12-year-old at heart, and my three other favorite movies from that year solidifies that point. In the spirit of “Animal House,” director Floyd Murtrux’s “The Hollywood Knights” might be the funniest movie ever made in my book. It’s a nasty teen comedy starring Robert Wuhl, Fran Drescher, Gailard Sartain, Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer that has some of the best gross-out gags ever committed to film. High brow, it’s not. Funny it is. Continuing the low-brow trend, is “Flash Gordon.” I know this is an awful movie on a lot of levels, but it’s truly a comic book brought to life, and I love it so much. “Air Plane!” is next. This spoof of the 1950s John Wayne and Robert Stack disaster movie “The High and the Mighty” has as many laughs per minute as any movie ever shot. Even people who don’t get all of the references still find it hilariously silly and entertaining. That’s the mark of a classic comedy to me.