Inside Out 2 opens this week, and even though I really like Inside Out, I just cannot get the sequel’s existence to stick in my mind. It has an enormous cast—as evidenced by the premiere’s turnout—and it’s been nine years since the original’s release, which is enough time for fondness to turn into nostalgia, but damn, I cannot remember this movie. 


Maybe that’s a little bit because the last few years for Pixar have been, commercially at least, rough, and Pixar films no longer feel like the event they once did, as Disney used Pixar movies to lure people to Disney+. That unquestionably hurt Pixar’s theatrical value, and now it’s on films like Inside Out 2 to restore the luster.


Most of the original cast is back, including Amy Poehler, who wore a fun floral frock to the premiere, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Kyle MacLachlan, and Diane Lane. But there are some new voices aboard as the now-teenaged Riley’s emotions. Liza Lapira is taking over from Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and Tony Hale has replaced Bill Hader as Fear. There are also new emotions like Adele Exarchopoulos as Ennui, Maya Hawke as Anxiety, Paul Walter Hauser as Embarrassment, and Ayo Edebiri as Envy. Ayo showed up in a sky-blue suit with short trousers, very summer fun. 

Last weekend, Bad Boys: Ride or Die opened strong with $56 million, proving that audiences have not abandoned Will Smith, but also injecting some much needed life into the summer box office. Inside Out 2 is hoping to build on that momentum, and being a family film, it SHOULD be able to, but again, there is no question that relegating Pixar to streaming for several years hurt Pixar’s brand, and audiences will have to re-learn going to the theater to see the new Pixar movie. I believe it can be done, but I also think this is a great example of a film where more flexible pricing would, er, pay off. Families are particularly hard hit by the cost of theatergoing, because they’re paying for so many tickets, concessions, etc. Make it easier on families, and everyone wins.


I also want to draw attention to June Squibb, who voices Nostalgia in the film and is the nonagenarian Oscar nominee who starred in Alexander Payne’s film, Nebraska. Squibb got her start on Broadway in the 1950s, and now, at age 94 she has her first leading role in Thelma, a comedy about a grandmother getting revenge after she’s scammed out of $10,000. We screened Thelma at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, and it was a total blast, like Hit Man but with revenge-minded elders instead of sexy liars, or The Beekeeper except the bees are protecting their own hive. Do yourself a favor and catch Thelma later this month.