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‘Inside Out 2’ Is Here! Why It Couldn’t Come at a Better Time for My Family

written by KATHY SISSON
inside out 2"
inside out 2
Source: @pixar
Source: @pixar

The original Inside Out movie was released in 2015. At the time, I had a 3-year-old daughter, so Disney and Pixar movie drops were big news in our house. We’d already been through our Frozen phase, loved Monsters Inc. and Monsters University, and had binged Toy Story 1, 2, & 3. I couldn’t wait to add another movie to our rotation. That is until I actually watched Inside Out. The film shined a light on all the repressed feelings us xennials and millennials had to hold inside as kids and tweens. Like Riley, I’d also moved towns and went through what I now know was adolescent depression. The movie struck a chord with me—but not with my 3-year-old. She never asked to watch it on repeat, so it didn’t become part of our family’s Disney movie rotation

However, now that 3-year-old is an 11-year-old on the cusp of adolescence, middle school, puberty—all the things. And it feels like Inside Out 2 is hitting theaters right when we both need it. So I’m booking tickets for opening weekend in the hopes it’ll be a conversation spark for our family as we move to this next stage. Here’s more about the movie and why I’m excited to watch Inside Out 2 together with my kids.

What Is ‘Inside Out 2’ About?

The original Inside Out gave us visuals for all the emotions inside the head of 11-year-old Riley in the form of engaging characters like Joy, Sadness, Fear, and Anger voiced by some of our favorite stars like Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Phyllis Smith. In Inside Out 2, Riley turns 13 and some new characters/emotions—Anxiety, Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment—enter Riley’s mind. When Anxiety suppresses Joy and the other original emotions, they must go on an adventure—including crossing the Sar-chasm—to get back into Riley’s mind and stop Anxiety from taking over everything.

Additionally, while the original Inside Out movie physicalized memories, Inside Out 2 will demonstrate Riley’s personal belief system in a beautiful way, with screenwriter Dave Holstein saying the visual representation should feel like ”the holiest of holies” in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

What Are the New Emotions in ‘Inside Out 2’?

Not so beautiful—a demolition crew ushers in the new emotions led by Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke. Anxiety is joined by other hallmark emotions of adolescence—Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment. Mindy Kaling (Envy) and Bill Hader (Fear) are not returning as part of the Inside Out 2 cast, but the sequel does include some new favorites like Ayo Edebiri, Paul Walter Hauser, and Tony Hale (of Toy Story 4 Forky fame!).

When Is the ‘Inside Out 2’ Release Date?

Inside Out 2 debuts in theaters on Friday, June 14, 2024. No word yet on when Inside Out 2 will be available on Disney Plus. You can view the official trailer below:

Why I’m Excited to Watch ‘Inside Out 2’ With My Kids

Movies Are Natural Conversation Starters

Unlike my generation, Gen Alpha kids are sharers. They’ve been taught that their feelings matter and—so far—my two kids have had little problems voicing them. For example, my oldest daughter is in fifth grade and recently went through the reproductive health unit. The subjects she felt comfortable discussing with me and her dad blew us both away. Topics we would have turned beet red talking about, she handles head-on. 

Not to mention, she already knew a lot about what was covered thanks to other Disney movies and Netflix shows starting the conversation for me—thank you Turning Red and The Babysitter’s Club. So, I anticipate Inside Out 2 will have a similar effect, sparking discussions about feelings and anxieties that are a normal and natural part of adolescence.

It Gives Language to Express Hard-to-Describe Feelings

Therapists and other mental health professionals we’ve interviewed for The Everymom often recommend Inside Out as a way to help children understand their feelings. The characters make emotions more tangible, and adult caregivers are able to validate those emotions. But as kids grow, their feelings become harder to articulate. For example, the general feeling of “meh” or malaise is something my tween has started to express. And until I saw the Inside Out 2 trailer, I didn’t even know there was a word to describe that feeling of “blah”—it’s ennui! 

With Inside Out 2 focusing on these more sophisticated emotions, I’m hoping it’ll 1) help my tween daughter know she’s not alone in feeling all of these things, 2) remind me what it feels like to be a tween and approach her with more empathy, and 3) help her younger sister also understand what’s about to happen in our home. Selfishly, I’m also hopeful that the new Inside Out movie will give some glimpses into the parents’ minds as they did in the first movie to maybe, just maybe, help my daughters see my perspective, too.

It Could Not Come at a More Perfect Time

My daughter is mostly excited about the end of elementary school and the beginning of middle school. However, as a parent, my anxiety is firing on all cylinders. I wonder whether she will feel like she has to suppress what’s weird and wonderful about herself to fit in. Will the friendships she’s cultivated be strong enough to survive mean girls, boy drama, and shifting interests? Have her dad and I created enough routines that studying and homework won’t bring us all to tears every night? 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Kelsey Mann said of the Inside Out movies, “The first film gave everyone a visual language to talk about their feelings. I thought, ‘If I can do that for teenagers’ — which was probably the hardest time in my life — ‘and if I can make that time a little better, then I’d love to.'”

As I stand on the cusp of parenting through the teen years, I, too, hope the movie will bring some levity, laughter, and learning for me and my kids before our next chapter begins. 

My Family’s ‘Inside Out 2’ Review

So what did my tweens think after seeing the movie? The release of Inside Out 2 coincided with the country-wide heat wave, so our entire family of four spent one afternoon in a cool theater. We laughed—I cried—and thoroughly enjoyed the film. According to my 11-year-old, it wasn’t nearly “as sad as the original Inside Out,” had some hilarious surprises, and was very relatable (Disney-Pixar’s production team consulting teen girls definitely paid off.) 

Like many families, the movie also sparked some meaningful discussions and I noticed it gave our family a new language to talk about our emotions (For example, “Dad’s red anger emotion is starting to kick up, so let’s stop screaming so loud in the car.”) Steph, The Everymom’s Branded Content Editor, agreed. She took her 4-year-old son to see Inside Out 2 and said while he definitely didn’t grasp the concept as well as a pre-teen would, he is learning to name emotions right now and was able to identify anger, joy, etc. “It’s a nice movie to reference when his feelings start getting too big,” she said.