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Inside Out 2 leaves us in a tangle of emotions—but how gay is it?

Inside Out 2 leaves us in a tangle of emotions—but how gay is it?

Inside Out 2 leaves us in a tangle of emotions—but how gay is it?

How many eggplants does the latest Disney/Pixar film get on Out's state-of-the-art Eggplant Rating System?

Welcome to How Gay Is It?Out’s review series where, using our state-of-the-art Eggplant Rating System, we determine just how queer some of pop culture's buzziest films and TV shows are! (Editor’s note: this review contains mild spoilers for Inside Out 2.)

Violent mood swings. Head full of overpowering emotions. That’s right: puberty has come to Inside Out 2. It’s been a mere two years for our protagonist Riley (and nine years since the original film), and she’s about to hit a dreaded stage of life: high school.

The voices in her head (sorry, we mean emotions) have returned, and they’re joined by a more sophisticated set of sentiments. Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Liza Lapira), and Fear (Tony Hale) are in for a rude awakening when the hormones hit. Invading HQ are Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), Envy (pride of Ireland, Ayo Edebiri), and the yin to Joy’s yang, Anxiety (Maya Hawke).

At this precarious stage in her life, Riley’s memories are helping form her “core beliefs” (a new concept introduced in this film). While Joy and the gang have been trying to only instill her with her best memories (and repressing/jettisoning ones they determine to be unpleasant), the newcomers have some input of their own.


What ensues is a chaotic battle against change between the old and the new. Anxiety in particular gets the most nuanced portrayal, and the result is a tense whirlwind of a ride. Anyone who has experienced anxiety (either the emotion or a related disorder) will relate to the spiral. A coup d’etat is staged and our core emotions find themselves booted to the far reaches of the mind.

This all plays out over three days as Riley enrolls with her two middle school besties in an ice hockey camp. While the war of emotions rages internally, externally she must navigate sticking with the safety of what she knows, or trying to impress the “cooler” more mature high school squad.

While it may be slightly more complicated, Inside Out 2 doesn’t feel as complex or sophisticated as its predecessor. It’s only mildly hyperbolic to say that Inside Out changed the way we were able to communicate about emotions. It painted a vivid and creative interpretation of what the inside of a mind should be like. While the sequel takes that framework, it doesn’t feel like it adds to it in a meaningful way. There are clever moments throughout (the sar-chasm featured in the trailer for one), and a few hard laughs (especially for parents with little ones, which we won’t spoil since it’s that good) but it doesn’t feel game changing the way the first did.

Is it a perfectly pleasant experience at the movies? Sure. In fact, this is the first Pixar film in a while we haven’t bawled our eyes out at… Did the seven year old next to us who didn’t remember anything from the original proclaim she loved it after? Vehemently. So while we recommend it, we want to save you from the following emotion: disappointment. Temper your expectations aggressively and prepare for a lot of transitive discomfort.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney/Pixar

Now for the question we at Out must boldly explore: How gay is it?! We’d say it’s baby gay, since the roots are there.

As far as overt sexuality goes, the movie contains purely PG related references to relatively innocent crushes. We get a brief glimpse of the Imaginary Boyfriends from the first film, and hint at another fictional romantic interest. Yet Riley has the makings of a queer icon.

For starters while the emotions of those who surround her all conform to the presented gender of their host body, Riley’s still on a journey to figure her identity out. We even get a peek into her bestie’s brains and their emotions visually reflect their vessel. Same goes for the “fully formed” emotions of her parents who are once again voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan.

She also has massive admiration (platonic or otherwise, you can impose your own judgment but give her a few years and we bet we know which way this goes) on high school hockey superstar Valentina “Val” Ortiz (voiced by Lilimar). If that girl isn't gonna inspire a new generation of young lesbians, we’re not sure who is.

As an overall film we give it a four out of five stars, but on the eggplant meter (or perhaps for this one 🌮?), we give it two out of five aubergines.

Inside Out 2 hits theaters on June 14. See the trailer below.

Inside Out 2 | Official

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Dana Han-Klein

Dana is a film fanatic, tenacious traveler, and interviewer of interesting individuals. She is also the host of the 'We're Watching What?!' podcast.

Dana is a film fanatic, tenacious traveler, and interviewer of interesting individuals. She is also the host of the 'We're Watching What?!' podcast.