4 Movies Like Inside Out 2 (2024)

Staff & contributors

, 2024

It’s easy to laugh about an old lady being an unwitting lead in an action film, the joke being that they can’t possibly be that. But June Squibb’s Thelma is. She refuses to be infantilized and undertakes a journey that’s dramatized to great effect. It’s still funny, but without Squibb’s character being the butt of the joke. It’s also immensely charming, smart, and moving, without ever being too saccharine or pandering. The performances are wonderful across the board, but it’s Thelma’s intergenerational bond with her 24-year-old grandson Daniel (Fred Hechinger) that’s at the heart of the film. In some ways, both Thelma and Daniel have to prove their worth to a world that gives them little credit for their idleness, even though they’re both happy and make other people happy that way. Parker Posey, who plays Thelma’s daughter and Daniel’s mother, is equally commendable as the seeingly stable but perpetually harried “adult” that keeps the two grounded in reality. Equal parts sweet and bad-ass, Thelma is the movie to see if you want to feel the warm fuzzies (minus the cheese) with the family.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Actor: Aidan Fiske, Annie Korzen, Annie O'Donnell, Bunny Levine, Chase Kim, Clark Gregg, Coral Peña, Fred Hechinger, Hilda Boulware, Ivy Jones, June Squibb, Malcolm McDowell, Nicole Byer, Parker Posey, Paul LeClair, Quinn Beswick, Richard Roundtree, Ruben Rabasa, Sandra Lee Gimpel, Sheila Korsi

Director: Josh Margolin

Rating: PG-13

The emotional sterility of modern life comes under the microscope of this understated Korean drama in which a young woman who has built self-preserving walls around her lonely existence begins to wonder if the trade-off is worth it. Outside of the soul-sucking call center job at which Jina (Gong Seung-Yeon) excels, her interactions with others are purely parasocial: she streams mukbangs on her phone as she eats alone, wakes up to the blare of her always-on TV, and checks in on her aging father via the security camera she’s surreptitiously installed in his home. When she reluctantly agrees to train the chatty, warm newbie (Jeong Da-eun) at work, Jina is confronted with a direct challenge to her aloofness, but the provocation is easily ignored until a similarly withdrawn neighbor is discovered long after his death.

This triggers a quarter-life crisis for Jina that’s predictably resolved, but Aloners transcends the neatness of this arc thanks to its quietly persistent challenging of the instinct to contort oneself to fit an inhumane world. Hong Sung-eun’s thoughtful first-time direction and Gong’s nuanced performance as a young woman waking up to the creeping dehumanization of herself make Aloners a genuinely thought-provoking reflection on 21st-century life.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ahn Jeong-bin, Geum Hae-na, Gong Seung-yeon, Jeong Da-eun, Ju Seok-tae, Kim Hae-na, Kwak Min-kyu, Park Jeong-hak, Seo Hyun-woo

Director: Hong Sung-eun

Given the country’s divisive politics, a second civil war seems plausible, inevitable even. But even though Civil War, the film, takes place in this kind of world, its main focus is on the four journalists who race through the country to get the scoop on a fascist president who’s bound to be ousted anytime soon. We only get hints at the specific causes and developments of the war, but what we do get is an unsettlingly close look at the human toll of it, as well as the realities of reportage—crushing PTSD, ethical responsibilities, and all. It’s a brilliant movie if you set your expectations right.

Genre: Action, Drama, War

Actor: Alexa Mansour, Brian Philpot, Cailee Spaeny, Dean Grimes, Edmund Donovan, Evan Holtzman, Evan Lai, Greg Hill, James Yaegashi, Jared Shaw, Jeff Bosley, Jefferson White, Jesse Plemons, Jin Ha, John Newberg, Jojo T. Gibbs, Juani Feliz, Justin Garza, Justin James Boykin, Karl Glusman, Kirsten Dunst, Martha B. Knighton, Melissa Saint-Amand, Nelson Lee, Nick Offerman, Robert Perry Bierman, Robert Tinsley, Simeon Freeman, Sonoya Mizuno, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Tim James, Vince Pisani, Vinnie Varon, Wagner Moura

Director: Alex Garland

Rating: R

In the same festival where she showcased her screenwriting chops, Rachel Sennott also showcased her dramatic side in I Used to Be Funny, a difficult drama that garnered less acclaim than Bottoms (2023). It’s understandable– while both films have a witty, gen-Z slant in its comedy, this drama is much harder to balance and heavy to watch, dealing with mental health and PTSD. The non-linear narrative occasionally does make the film feel a tad disjointed as well. However, there’s a care and a warmth from Ally Pankiw’s direction that makes this exploration of Sam’s complex trauma feel heartfelt, and Sennott holds each scene with compelling charisma.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Caleb Hearon, Dan Beirne, Dani Kind, Ennis Esmer, Hannah Spear, Jason Jones, Kathy Imrie, Matia Jackett, Miguel Rivas, Olga Petsa, Rachel Sennott, Sabrina Jalees

Director: Ally Pankiw

Rating: NR