INSIDE OUT 2 – Review by Susan Granger

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While Jonathan Haidt’s The Anxious Generation, subtitled How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, soars on Best Seller lists, Pixar animation captures the angst with Inside Out 2.

Pixar’s follow-up to the 2015 family flick about talking emotions centers on 13 year-old Riley (Kensington Tallman), teetering on the cusp of puberty. Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Ennui (the French word that combines the feeling of tiredness & boredom) join the core emotions from the previous film: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, and Sadness.

While Joy (Amy Poehler) still operates the complicated emotional control console, the emphasis here is on Anxiety (Maya Hawke) with its characteristic volatility and confusion.

Impressionable Riley is essentially a well-adjusted youngster who loves her supportive parents (Diana Lane & Kyle MacLachlan) and is devoted to her best friends Grace (Grace Lu) and Bree (Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green). She’s conscientious in school and on the ice-hockey rink.

Until that fateful summer morning when Riley wakes up with a zit on her chin and a fierce temper. She about to embark on a trip to an all-important girls’ hockey camp; her skill there will determine whether she qualifies for the prestigious school team: the Fire Hawks.

That’s when Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) and Ennui (Adele Exarchopoulos) join Anxiety to take hormonal command of the emotional control console, adversely affecting Riley’s belief system and self-esteem. One of my favorite moments is an all-too-brief glimpse of elderly Nostalgia (June Squibb from “Thelma”), murmuring “Too early!”

What’s extraordinary about this animated coming-of-age feature is how it turns ideas into images, visually demonstrating to children – and their parents – how the subconscious minds works – peppered with suspense and humor. And be sure to stay for the post-credits scene epitomizing teenagers’ tendency to blow things out of proportion.

Kudos to veteran Pixar storyboard artist Kelsey Mann, helming his first feature, working from the adroitly observational screenplay by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein and spirited score by Andrea Datzman.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Inside Out 2 is an effective, enlightening 8, playing in theaters.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.