In 2015, Pete Docter and Pixar gave us all a handy and fun visual metaphor to talk about how our emotions function in our day-to-day lives and in how we develop as people. Many a GIF and reaction meme were born with "Inside Out," which provided a visual shorthand for expressing our strongest emotions through the story of Riley, a young girl from Minnesota who experiences a whole range as she moves with her family to San Francisco. It all becomes especially tumultuous when Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) accidentally disrupt the transmission of core memories and have to journey through Riley's mind to stabilize the system.

Nine years later, in "Inside Out 2," Riley's (Kensington Tallman) emotions, which also includes Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (now voiced by Tony Hale) and Disgust (Liza Lapira, replacing Mindy Kaling), have found a comfortable stasis, coexisting in a harmony that has resulted in a strong sense of self. That "sense of self" is visualized in the film by a delicate, flower-like structure that grows from a pool of core memories. From each memory grows a glowing strand of a belief system that can be plucked like a guitar string, resonating with a belief or mantra like, "I'm kind," which results in the belief system "I'm a good person."

Joy has been carefully tending this belief system, chucking Riley's bad memories to the back of her mind, creating a happy-go-lucky kid who is totally ill-equipped for what's coming: puberty. In "Inside Out 2," directed by Kelsey Mann, everything is upended by puberty's surprising arrival, along with a group of new, more complex emotions. HQ is demolished to make room for Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) and the new emotion in charge, Anxiety (Maya Hawke).

They burst into Riley's brain on the eve of high school, and the morning of a three-day hockey skills camp she's attending with her friends Bree (Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green) and Grace (Grace Lu). With Anxiety at the wheel, determined to build a new Riley in order to keep her safe, the plot of "Inside Out 2″ is essentially "Riley has a panic attack at hockey camp." But of course there's so much more going on internally, which is the real story of the film. Once again, Joy has to go on a journey through Riley's brain, this time to save her sense of self. And once again, Joy has to learn that Riley has to experience and navigate every emotion, including these new, thornier ones, in order to be a whole person.

Once again there's a nagging sense that's something's missing: where's Logic? Reason? Rationality? As each emotion takes a turn at the console controlling what's going on in Riley's head, it's clear that she's not in charge at all, which doesn't entirely make sense for a newly minted teenager, pubescent or not. The bored, French cool girl Ennui takes charge when it comes to the more intellectual issues, such as hitting the sarcasm button to overcorrect an embarrassing moment (as she does so, it opens a "sar-chasm" in the Stream of Consciousness, part of the film's signature wordplay).

One has to put these questions aside in order to fully enjoy "Inside Out 2," though it is rather entertaining, diverting enough, especially with the new characters, who steal the show. Hawke and Edebiri deliver the best vocal performances as the tightly wound Anxiety and Envy, dueling demonic twins. Exarchopoulos is inspired casting. There's also a fun sequence with a few new characters who are found in the vault in Riley's head, a crush on a video game character, Lance, and Bloofy (Ron Funches) a cartoon dog from a show aimed at preschoolers, who are legitimately funny and offer the animators a chance to play with character design and style. These characters are also vastly underused.

The new emotion character design is creative and fun, especially Anxiety (Embarrassment and Ennui seem to be nods to the 1980s language-learning cartoon "Muzzy") while the human/"real world" design is par for the Pixar course: hard, shiny and photo-realistic in certain moments. It makes you wonder if this would be better served as depicted with real actors in a live-action format.

As Riley grows up in "Inside Out 2″ the metaphor is stretched to its limits, unfairly rendering her a quivering mess ruled entirely by emotions. The visual representation of how emotions and memories create a belief system and sense of self are indeed useful for talking to kids about how their inner lives and brains work, and the imagery is smart and creative, but it has the feeling of an educational children's book.

"Inside Out 2′s" internal logic tests our own belief systems, and fails to impart anything profoundly insightful to an adult audience.

'Inside Out 2′

2.5 stars out of 4

Rated: PG for some thematic elements.

Where: In theaters.