Review: “Inside Out 2” satisfying sequel that faces down puberty

Film flirts with preachy but reliably lands at funny and smart

Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 96 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Animation
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: High-concept cartoon a great sequel to the original.

If you liked Inside Out, you’re going to love Inside Out 2, which ably picks up the story of our heroine, Riley (Kensington Tallman), as she moves into the dreaded puberty, unleashing a bunch of new “emotions” along the way.

Smart and just sentimental enough, cleverly drawn and brilliantly voiced, Inside Out 2 takes us to the inner workings of the brain of a young woman as she moves into adolescence. But the feelings that propelled the younger girl aren’t sufficient for her in this transition, though it’s great to have wise-cracking original emotions back: the ever-optimistic Joy (Amy Poehler), the delightfully sad sack Sadness (Phyllis Smith), the hilariously furious Anger (Lewis Black), the dismissively disapproving Disgust (Liza Laira) and Tony Hale hilariously filling in for Bill Hader as Fear.

The story flips between “real life” as Riley continues to process her family’s move to San Francisco and attends a hockey camp for league tryouts and the inner workings of her mind, magnificently illustrated as a colour-drenched world with hints of the relentless massiveness of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

Anxiety (Maya Hawke) is the most relentless — and hilarious — of the new emotions unleashed on Riley as she matures, the character’s wild hair, deranged grin and relentless bug eyes the embodiment of out-of-control angst. Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) is adorably indecisive along with insidious Envy (Ayo Edebiri) and, personal fave, the droll, oh-so-bored, French-accented Ennui (Adéle Exarchopoulos).

Inside Out 2 manages to impart “life lessons” without getting too preachy or oozing into Christian television storylines about “living right.” Riley is a fully developed character processing significant changes, including taking more control of her own life as she matures and determines how she fits in with her family.

Envy and Anger provide plenty of gut-grabbing laughs while Fear is sweetly amusing. Ennui is a quietly wise-assed “heckler,” her whispered comments providing plenty of droll rewards for those paying attention.

There are plenty of clever asides and winks at the audience in a film that’s not afraid to parody itself or at the animation artform to land a joke. Probably too intense for younger kids, it will speak directly to children the same age as Riley, with plenty of laughs and insight for older viewers. Plus, it looks so damn cool, and the concept is beyond trippy.