Amanda's Picks

June 27, 2024 at 10:20 a.m.

By AMANDA GLAM Columnist



The animated Pixar film Inside Out 2 (PG) is setting box office records for 2024, taking in more than $600 million in its first two weeks. If you do the math, that’s not just movie-loving kids and their parents and chaperones. Adults are digging this smart and funny sequel to 2015’s Inside Out.

Riley, who we met in the first movie, is now 13 and still obsessed with ice hockey. But the teen years bring new emotions and Joy (Amy Poehler), her once-dominant emotion, is forced to take a backseat to newcomer Anxiety (Maya Hawke).

Anxiety hasn’t invaded Riley’s brain alone. She’s brought along Embarrassment, Envy and scene-stealer Ennui. When Riley and her friends are accepted to a competitive hockey camp, she’s forced to choose between hanging out with her besties or the cool kids from her future high school. This conflict leaves very little room for Joy and a way in for Anxiety and Company to take over Riley’s emotional life. Anxiety claims she just wants Riley to succeed by planning for her future and preparing her for all the bad things that can go wrong. “What if I don’t make the team?” “What if Val doesn’t like me?” “How will I survive with my best friends in a different school?” “Where did this pimple come from?”

When Riley’s belief that “I’m a good person” is replaced by “I’m not good enough.” Joy and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) who were at odds in the first film, decide to work together to bring back her “sense of self” from her subconscious.

My biggest complaint about Inside Out 2 is that some of the emotions have very little to do. Lewis Black, who was perfect as Anger in the original, doesn’t have much to do here. Envy (Ayo Edebiri) barely registers and you wouldn’t even notice that Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader have been replaced as Disgust and Embarrassment. The winner in this battle of emotions? Hawke’s frenetic but oddly devoted anxiety and the scene-stealing Adèle Exarchopoulos as Ennui. And, since Riley is one of the few animated characters in history to have two loving, healthy parents, (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan), it would have been nice if they got more screen time.

Ultimately, Riley’s emotions end up working together and Joy is back in control. Anxiety has a special chair to go to calm down and like Sadness, in the original film, is seen as a useful emotion, in small doses. We know Riley is going to be OK and we’ll see even more when a new Inside Out series premieres on Disney TV in 2025.

Inside Out 2: 4 out of 5 Stars



IF (PG) the star-studded live action/animated hybrid, directed by John Krasinski, like Inside Out 2, focuses on a young girl facing a difficult challenge, but with a bit more on the line than hockey camp. Bea (Cailey Fleming), is a 12-year-old girl who lost her mom to cancer, and is facing another potential tragedy as her dad, played by Krasinski, prepares for a heart operation. Fun times, huh? While staying with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw), Bea discovers she can see everyone’s imaginary friends. She teams with her offbeat neighbor, the always delightful Ryan Reynolds, who knows everyone in the imaginary friend business, to try and rehome the IFs with new humans.

IF is a sweet film with an unnecessarily complicated plot and WAY too many characters. My guess is that Krasinski has a lot of friends and he wanted to give them all something to do. That means Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and GASP, George Clooney have at the most, two lines each. He’s a bit more generous to his real-life wife Emily Blunt, who plays a unicorn and Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as a discarded ballerina imaginary friend.

When I wasn’t trying to figure out who was voicing who, and what happened to Clooney, IF got to me. While I don’t think I had an imaginary friend, my daughter Summer did. I remember my then-preschooler reminding me to buckle up Baby Lion King’s carseat and panicking when I accidentally left him in the car. I was kind of sad when she told me “He didn’t need to come to school” with her anymore. Is that why I teared up several times during the emotion-packed final act? Maybe. But Krasinski, who also wrote the film, and heads the successful Quiet Place franchise, is proving himself a master at emotional manipulation. Even though IF doesn’t always make sense, it makes an impact.

IF: 3.5 Stars out of 5