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Inside Out 2 First Reviews: Maya Hawke Steals the Show in Pixar's Smart, Necessary Sequel

Critics say the film isn't as surprising or uproariously funny as the first, but it successfully balances pathos and fun with a worthwhile story and fantastic performances.

by | June 12, 2024 | Comments

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Inside Out ranks among the top five Pixar movies of all time, according to their Tomatometer scores. Could its sequel fare as well? Well, the first reviews of Inside Out 2 have arrived online, and they paint a favorable picture, even if they aren’t enthusiastic as they were for the original (which, to be fair, was to be expected). Pixar almost always earns the distinction of being Certified Fresh with its releases, but fans have high standards as a result of so many their movies scoring 90% or above on the Tomatometer. As always, though, this one is still deeper than other animated offerings out there.

Here’s what critics are saying about Inside Out 2:


Is it as good as the first Inside Out?

Inside Out 2 had a lot to live up to, and it far exceeded my expectations.
Rachel Lesihman, The Mary Sue

It’s surprisingly better than the original.
Casey Chong, Casey’s Movie Mania

What are the odds that a sequel almost a decade later and by a mostly new creative team could recapture its canonical predecessor’s magic and humanity? But graduating from childhood into the emotional minefield of early adolescence might even have improved upon it.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Fans of the original can breathe a sigh of relief because there is a lot here to enjoy thanks to some brilliant performances from a truly eclectic cast.
Linda Marric, HeyUGuys

Inside Out 2 can’t shock us with its out-of-the-box imaginative daring the way Inside Out did. But the [filmmakers] build on the earlier film’s playful brilliance and come about as close as we could have hoped for to matching it.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

It’s not a sequel’s job to be better than the original. It’s a sequel’s job to tell another story worth telling, and no doubt about it, Inside Out 2 gets that job done.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Like the first film, this sequel is funny and moving, although it doesn’t live up to these qualities as found in its predecessor.
Cody Dericks, Next Best Picture


Image from Inside Out 2 (2024)

(Photo by Pixar)

Is it one of the better Pixar sequels?

It’s the rare Pixar sequel that truly earns its existence.
Belen Edwards, Mashable

Kelsey Mann’s Inside Out 2 should remind us of something we’ve all learned over the last few decades: The best Pixar sequels are the ones that grow up with the kids who watched the originals.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

Inside Out 2 marks a triumphant creative return for Pixar, bringing off the thing that this studio, at its best, has done better than anyone: finding the sweet spot that merges the gaze of children and adults.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

It’s what any great sequel should be: an extension of the first film, a second chapter… Inside Out 2 seems not superfluous but necessary, a logical extension of the story.
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

Like most sequels to Pixar’s very good or great films, this one’s sometimes busy to a fault, and little monomaniacal in its pacing. But we’re are a long way here from the mechanical likes of Monsters University or Cars 2.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Get your expectations in the Incredibles 2/Monsters University range.
Reuben Baron, Looper.com


Will young teens especially relate to it?

It may be the most poignantly perceptive tale of the conundrums of early adolescence since Eighth Grade.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Inside Out 2 is extremely relatable for all ages, but especially for tweens, teens, and adults. It is more mature than the first, but that’s a good thing.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Inside Out 2 is… eerily relatable to anyone, especially children and young adults, who have experienced anxiety or panic attacks.
Nate Adams, The Only Critic


Image from Inside Out 2 (2024)

(Photo by Pixar)

Is the animation still top notch?

As in the first film, the animation is beautiful. Fantastical details adorn the well-designed emotions, and they’re all animated in a way that smartly emphasizes their characterizations.
Cody Dericks, Next Best Picture

Pixar never holds back when it comes to the vibrant, show-stopping animation, and Inside Out 2 is no exception. Riley’s mind is visually gorgeous across its environments.
Jeff Nelson, Guy at the Movies

It hits the usual Pixar standard of quality animation.
Reuben Baron, Looper.com


How are the new characters?

The new emotions on the block are a deliriously fun crew, from the catty Envy to the no-thanks-we’re-bored Ennui… but the key newcomer is Anxiety.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

The inevitable emotional changes and mood swings naturally emerged, which justified the introduction of the new personified emotions. This is especially true with Anxiety and credit goes to Maya Hawke for her scene-stealing voice work.
Casey Chong, Casey’s Movie Mania

The best thing in Inside Out 2, both in concept and execution, is Anxiety herself. The rote version would be a Woody Allen-ish nebbish with flop sweat and existential quips, but the stringy orange creature and Maya Hawke’s high-energy vocal performance is the rare example of originality in this picture.
Jordan Hoffman, Entertainment Weekly

Hawke is an excellent addition, making a worthy antagonist who takes over with the diplomacy of a Bolshevik but ultimately proves no less susceptible to pressure than the rest of them.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Maya Hawke’s performance as Anxiety was fantabulous making this particular emotion all too realistic for viewers of all ages.
Carla Renata, The Curvy Critic

The only problem is that the new characters in Inside Out 2 begin to outshine the old.
Paolo Ragusa, Consequence


Image from Inside Out 2 (2024)

(Photo by Pixar)

What about its screenplay?

Much of why the film works is due to the sharp writing.
Edward Douglas, The Weekend Warrior

The script here follows the sound logic that the relatively simple core emotions of childhood would suddenly be jostling for space with a whole new set of volatile feelings and confused impulses when adolescence hits. It’s the balance of basic psychology with abstract concepts and inspired observational comedy that makes this a uniquely captivating coming-of-age tale.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

The fact that these dual emotional stories are all intersecting with Riley’s external narrative in riveting and compelling ways is a testament to how well-considered and put-together this screenplay truly is.
Ross Bonaime, Collider

The entire dramatic thrust of the screenplay is a watered-down version of similar aspects from the previous film, leading to a dramatic conclusion that’s practically identical.
Cody Dericks, Next Best Picture


Is it funny?

Like with the first film, this sequel is having a lot of punny fun with bringing these things to life, but they always exist to aid the story, rather than just feeling like smart gags that are crammed into the narrative.
Ross Bonaime, Collider

Among my favorite jokes was the repeat appearance of Nostalgia, a sweet old dear carrying a cup of tea who’s sternly hurried out the door with cries of, “Too early!”
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

The wordplay remains tiptop, as when Joy and company face a dangerous river crossing (memory bubbles substituting for water) known as the Sar-Chasm.
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Inside Out 2 isn’t nearly as funny as the original, which isn’t to say that it’s a slog, only that the jokes aren’t all zingers this time. (But it must be said, as belabored puns go, the “sar-chasm” is stultifyingly brilliant.)
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

The movie isn’t always as uproariously funny as the first Inside Out because it lacks that primal surprise factor. Yet it’s full of moments of delirious effrontery.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Inside Out 2 is funny, but not as funny as the first film.
Cody Dericks, Next Best Picture

There are some laugh-out-loud moments guaranteed to land with audiences across various age groups, but they’re occasionally handled as a priority over the story’s emotional core.
Jeff Nelson, Guy at the Movies


Image from Inside Out 2 (2024)

(Photo by Pixar)

Does it have a core message?

At the heart of the story there remains a strong message of hope and kindness.
Linda Marric, HeyUGuys

The message of Inside Out 2 is as universal and good-hearted as that of its predecessor: You might not know from one minute to the next what emotion is driving a teenage mind, but every messy part of the mechanism has both function and beauty.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Just like in the original Inside Out, the film teaches a valuable lesson about the importance of letting yourself experience emotions, instead of compartmentalizing them or locking them away entirely.
Belen Edwards, Mashable

What ticks me off a little is that thanks to Inside Out 2 I now have sympathy for my own anxiety. Great, just what my anxiety needed — a boost.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

You can’t help but feel how the message of learning to inhabit an activity for the love of it rather than for social cache or short-lived gratification is still necessary for all of us to hear. Even if its ring sounds a tad too familiar.
Robert Daniels, RogerEbert.com


Should we bring tissues?

Inside Out 2 manages to elicit more than a few tears towards the end.
Edward Douglas, The Weekend Warrior

Did I cry at the ending? Of course, I did!
Reuben Baron, Looper.com

You’ll cry… It may fall a bit short of the original, but it still packs an emotional punch.
Kevin Slane, Boston.com


Does it give us hope for Pixar’s future?

After a recent string of disappointments, I’m happy to report that Pixar have found their artistic stride again.
Nate Adams, The Only Critic

It makes one think Pixar is making its return to greatness.
Edward Douglas, The Weekend Warrior

It reminds us of how great Pixar can be at the height of their powers.
Ross Bonaime, Collider


91% Inside Out 2 (2024) opens in theaters on June 14, 2024.


Thumbnail image by ©Pixar
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