Amy Poehler tells PEOPLE that Inside Out 2 will cover “what it feels like to be a teenager [and] the new emotions that live inside a young person’s brain”
Amy Poehler is ready to show fans a peek inside the teenage mind.
Disney and Pixar announced at the D23 Expo Friday that a sequel to 2015’s Oscar-winning Inside Out is coming soon, with Poehler returning as Joy and Kelsey Mann directing. Poehler tells PEOPLE the new movie tackles the awkward, at times frustrating, teen era of the main character Riley as she goes through puberty.
“At the very end if the original, Joy has that great moment where she’s like, ‘Finally, everything the way it’s supposed to be.’ Then we see that big puberty button, ‘Should we press this?’ We do press it in the second movie,” says Poehler, 50. “In some ways, Inside Out set itself up for a sequel and we’re going there.”
“We’re going to have what it feels like to be a teenager, the new emotions that live inside a young person’s brain,” she continues. “In many ways, it was really exciting. We knew exactly where we were. We go to the teen brain and we see the madness that lives inside there.”
Poehler reflected on her own teen years, saying there was lots of “feeling frustrated” or “like you’re very in between.”
“There’s a lot of things you want to have move quicker than they are,” she says. “I remember that feeling of wanting to grow up fast, which is such a funny feeling now. You wanted time to go fast. You wanted life to move. You wanted to move. Sometimes, you get stuck in a system or a group that won’t let you do that. I think a lot frustration. I can remember that feeling. Feeling frustration and I know that young people still feel that.”
The actress adds, “There’s a lot of very complicated feelings about who am I, where do I fit it? Sometimes your brain is not your friend. But then also, it’s a time of real exploration, letting things go that don’t work for you anymore, taking big swings and big chances. You’re supposed to make a lot of mistakes. It’s an adventurous time and it can be really treacherous.”
“Those feelings don’t go away,” says Poehler. “They make room of their own in your brain and then they come back over and over again at different times in your life.”
Poehler — who is mom to sons Archie, 13, and Abel, 12, with ex Will Arnett — says the new film will go “deeper” with the themes since “a lot has happened since the first film in terms of the emotional intelligence and how we think about mental health and how our emotions can affect us physically, and what’s really going on inside our head.”
And she is proud of the fact that Inside Out empowers young audiences and helps them vocalize their feelings.
“Young people have a really hard time telling the world how they feel. Either they’re dismissed or they don’t have the language yet or they’re afraid their feelings won’t be what their parents want them to feel,” says Poehler. “So to give young people a sense of agency is really nuts.”
Inside Out 2 will debut in summer 2024.