Why Inside Out 2 Is THE Best Movie of the Summer


Like many of you, I saw Inside Out 2 with my children within the first few days of it hitting movie theaters. 

My family has loved the original Inside Out movie since we first saw it. The way it demonstrates how feelings are identified and expressed is relatable to individuals of all ages and the characters are loveable and endearing. I am particularly impressed with the way the first movie shows how feelings interact; for example, it shows how sometimes you need to be sad before you can feel joy again

I was apprehensive when I first heard the sequel was in the works. Sometimes, sequels fall flat. I hated the thought that the legacy of the first installment of Inside Out could be tainted by a poorly done sequel. 

Then, the official movie trailers began appearing on social media and I felt excited. The trailers looked promising and I was very hopeful that I would love this sequel as much as I loved the first Inside Out movie. 

Thankfully, my first impressions from watching the trailers were correct! Inside Out 2 was as much a joy (pun intended) to watch as the first. 

By dbreen from Pixabay

I have seen people comparing the two movies, with many people saying they liked the second one, but still preferred the first one better. My feelings are a little different. I love them both but in different ways. I’m not sure I can pit one movie against the other.

In the first Inside Out movie, the main character, Riley, is a tween. The emotions she feels are childish and uncomplicated. Inside Out 2 takes place when Riley is a newly minted teenager, and her emotions are suddenly much more complex and evolving. 

The way Riley’s feelings are represented in both movies is very well done! I was impressed at how Inside Out 2 grew and matured- just like the original Inside Out’s audience; children like my now 9 and 12-year-olds watched the first movie when they were little and understood emotions on a basic level at that time, and related to it then. Now that they are older, they understand emotions in a more advanced way and Inside Out 2 accounted for that audience continuity.

My favorite aspect of Inside Out 2 is how Riley’s basic emotions (Anger, Disgust, Joy, Sadness, and Fear) were allowed to evolve both as characters and as feelings and be affected by the new, suddenly appearing, new emotions (Anxiety, Embarrassment, Boredom, and Envy). 

It was an incredibly accurate depiction of what happens during puberty and, to be fair, even certain times in a woman’s hormonal cycle; I recognized much of what Riley was going through in my own life now, as well as what I felt in my teenage years (although they were long ago). Upon further reflection, I think anyone with anxiety can relate to Riley in this movie as well.

Image by Werner Redlich from Pixabay

After viewing the movie, I asked my children about their thoughts. They had the following thoughts and opinions:


My daughter, 9, expressed how well the movie depicted anxiety and how it can take over and entirely suppress other emotions.

When Anxiety controlled Riley’s mind, there was no way she could access other feelings to help her get back to equilibrium. My daughter said she could definitely relate to Riley in this way because she’d experienced times when she felt anxiety took over in her own life.

My son, 12, explained how he connected with the message that emotions are complicated and hard to control.

The movie showed that even Joy could be frustrated, Sadness can find determination within, Anger can act out of concern, and Anxiety can spiral out of control. Embarrassment and Sadness were also shown as working together to try to overcome Anxiety, even though they failed at first. This pairing is complex but makes sense at the same time; both are negative emotions, however, at this point, both have realized that other feelings like themselves need to play a part in overcoming Anxiety so Joy can re-enter.

My son also appreciated that Ennui (Boredom) did his part of controlling Riley’s feelings via a smartphone, which he scrolled through when he was not actively contributing to Riley’s actions. As a child on the brink of becoming a teenager himself, I got the feeling that my son realized that how he is starting to experience emotions is entirely normal. 

Both of my children were quick to mention the vault where dark secrets were kept in Riley’s mind and the emotions making it a point to move unwanted memories to the depths of Riley’s memory. They felt it was an accurate representation of how their own minds work.

The final aspect my children discussed with me was the creation and evolution of Riley’s sense of self and identity.

 At first, Joy and the original emotions manipulated Riley’s feelings so she would always identify as a good person. When Anxiety and the other emotions showed up, Anxiety was concerned that Riley identifying as only a good person would hurt her chances of being happy in the long-term, because acting under that simple premise did not guarantee she’d be popular or make the high school hockey team. Anxiety began controlling all of Riley’s thoughts, making her determined to do whatever she needed to do to fit in with the cool and popular hockey players and make the high school team, even at the expense of being honest, kind, or helpful. 

While all the emotions had good intentions, they all realized in the end that none of them had the authority to completely control Riley’s sense of self. A sense of self was something that Riley herself had to form, independent of her emotions. When they relinquished that control to Riley, not only did her true sense of self form, but her emotions became more balanced.

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

It stood out to me that teenagers and adults who let anxiety take over are the ones putting the most pressure on themselves. Putting pressure on ourselves can be healthy to a point; we all should make it a point to have realistic personal expectations and goals. However, when we start setting expectations that are very difficult to attain, we do not always use healthy means to reach our goals. 

Riley was determined to make the hockey team as a freshman and Anxiety caused her to disclude her team members, ignore her best friends, and be dishonest in her quest to fit in on the team. Everything she did allowed Anxiety to spiral more and more out of control and, in the end, caused her to have a panic attack.

As a parent, watching this representation of how anxiety works was thought-provoking. I have a history of putting too much pressure on myself but it’s countered by my fierce desire to set a good example for my children. I never want my kids to feel like they’re spiraling out of control due to anxiety. 

I am thankful we watched Inside Out 2 together; I have a feeling I’ll be able to use our common experiences with this movie to get through my kids’ next developmental stages.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably seen Inside Out 2 as well. What other takeaways would you include? What aspects of the movie did your children comment on?

Pin this post and be sure to follow Vermont Moms on Pinterest!

Vermont Moms Insiders get exclusive content, so sign up today!

Previous articleS3, E5 Mirror, Mirror
Next articleS3, E6 That Blonde Back Biter!
Amanda Dall
Originally from upstate New York, Amanda moved to Vermont with her husband after they got married in 2007! She holds a Masters's degree in speech-language pathology and, over the last five years, has experienced life as a full-time working mom, a part-time working mom, and a stay-at-home mom to two young children. These days, Amanda plays the role of 'stay-at-home-mom' and spends her time chauffeuring, chasing kids, reading children's books, and seeking any activity that will get her family out of the house.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here