Entertainment and Arts

‘Inside Out 2’ – Is Believing in Ourselves Enough?

By: Russ Matthews

Over the past decade since Inside Out’s initial release, parents have been able to visualise the minds of their children and their emotions in a different light.

Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust entered the societal conscience through the visionary Pixar tale from the visionary director Peter Doctor (UP!). Since this ground breaking film’s release, Pixar has gone through extensive creative changes; the world has worked through a pandemic, the political dialogue has impacted how films are being made, and Disney is going through a reshuffle on every level.

Despite all the changes behind the scenes, Inside Out 2 is one of the year’s most anticipated family films. Audiences will re-enter the mind of Riley (Kensington Tallman), who has turned 13 years of age, and puberty has begun to take hold of her emotions. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear (Tony Hale) and Disgust (Liza Lapira) are still at the helm of the teenager’s emotional state. Still, as Riley goes through changes, new characters begin to enter her mind. Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Envy (Ayo Edebiri) invade the familiar space as they are led by Anxiety (Maya Hawke). Along with these new emotions, Riley must determine how she will navigate this new season of life with her friends, dreams and significant shifts in her social life.

First-time director and Pixar regular Kelsey Mann takes on this believed franchise and journeys into the formidable realm of the teenage girl’s mind. As the central character is thrown into a camp atmosphere and outside the supportive atmosphere of her family, Mann and company manage to push all of the buttons of this typical teen. A story that opens the door to mental health and how everyone must work to manage these competing voices while navigating life’s challenges. Amy Poehler and the cast do a masterful job of bringing these specific spirits to life and capturing the same magic of the original film. Yet, with so many characters to balance within her inner being, there was less time for relationships in the realities of life; specifically, her parents played less of a role in this film.

If there are any knocks on this Pixar outing, is the limitations of the target audience and the absence of something to believe in besides merely self. Addressing the first issue is not a cut on the movie, but more on the limitations of establishing a target to make the story for. Without any apology, the original and sequel will primarily appeal to a teenaged female audience, which will limit its broader appeal. A financial statement is more than a comment on the storyline itself. Still, the most significant chasm left wide open is the absence of God. Without giving away too much, Riley’s real battle is for her belief system. To leave it to her to make up her own mind and being reliant on her unreliable emotional state for an establishment of her belief system will leave most people with faith wanting a better solution, since the true answer to her mental and emotional stability could be remedied with God.

That said, Inside Out 2 is a return to form for Pixar. Elemental was a strong start, and this film gets the animation house back on course for solid family films that open the door to deeper discussions. The characters will appeal to the younger set. At the same time, the screenplay will ring true for parents and teens searching for answers to this tumultuous season of hormones and emotions.

Reel Dialogue: Is believing in myself enough?

One thing that could have been said about the original Inside Out was that it had ‘heart.’ Riley’s emotional journey was driven by joy and sadness, but her parents helped her through life. Interestingly, her second chapter moves her into her teen years. Now, she is controlled by her emotions and has less influence from her family. Joy states that the young woman is developing her beliefs as she grows up. Not just emotions, not mere feelings, but beliefs. Yet, the result is a shallow self-belief that teeters on the brink of emotional disaster with each experience she encounters in life.

Throughout the screening, this discussion of belief continued, and there was a constant need for someone to be acknowledged. Specifically, the conversation continually fell short as it failed to mention God in the mix. In this era, we desire for people to have a healthy self-confidence. The only issue is that our belief and confidence structure will be constantly jeopardised if this is built on our personal abilities and emotions. A healthy and robust confidence and belief system cannot be based on oneself but on one who is perfect and unchanging. To take the conversation started by Inside Out 2 deeper, the challenge is for you to realise that the only place to discover true belief is less in yourself and more in the God who is there for those who seek solace for their souls.

If you would like to discuss belief or other topics from this film, contact our team at Third Space. We can start the conversation and connect you with those who can help you find the answer.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie publicity

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

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