Written by – GIUSEPPE ORIGO
Translated by – LUCREZIA IUSSI
As luck would have it, my personal projection of Inside Out happened in the dingy cinematographic para-substitute that was the headrest of the seat in front of mine, on the Johannesburg-Abu-Dhabi flight.
It sucks to watch a movie on a plane: you usually do it because the melatonin you took will not work, and therefore falling asleep is quite impossible. Especially after that awful canned soup: shame on me and on the person who convinced me to take the “lamb with Arabic herbs”… at least this time Imodium seemed more useful than sleeping pills.
You watch it on a lame screen, as big as a tablet but still quite lame, with the lamest low resolution, while the audio is crackling from the airline lame headphones – they never ever work properly. You do it close to a goofy, way too fat for the economy class seats size lady. She was capable, all through the hour and 42 minutes of the movie, of spilling on you (in order): one Schweppes, one glass of frozen water and a meteorite of the quoted “lamb with Arabic herbs” (which seems to go strong on this flight), as big as a stuffed olive…
The thing is, I am not completely sure I understood what happened inside my head in the time between the choice of Peter Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen’s Inside Out among the available movies, and the beginning of the credits. The final result was however me in tears, hugged by the after-all-maternal-although-goofy seat neighbour, who was asking. “Oh, sweetie why are you crying?”
Well yes, because the Pixar Animation Studios did it again. With Toy Story 3, they brought the worldwide audience on the edge of a psychological breakdown in 2010. I remember that, as I got home, I went in the basement to empty my old toys boxes and I decided that at least the Micro Machines Truck had to receive the place it deserved, for the honour and for its service: on my former-boy desk. Once again, the Pixar Animation Studios are playing dirty, hitting the audience’s emotional side. The result? Another goal masterfully scored.
“Inside Out” is, as the title suggests, the story of the adolescence of an eleven years old ordinary girl (ordinary life, ordinary family problems in an ordinary family, after the ordinary shock of moving and getting a new life), lived and told inside and out the main character. The story is, as a matter of fact, a double helix structure where, chapeau to the genius, young Riley’s life and the things that happen in the meanwhile inside her head (in the control room, inhabited by emotions, memories, experiences, traumas, fantasies and a colourful potpourri of knowledge levels) intertwine.
Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear are the machinists who move Riley, directing behaviours and attitudes, building her personality based on emotions and memories. Each one of these characters, just as every feature of the movie, was created after a long series of consults with psychologists and it was shaped with a specific appearance. That makes their identification with the abstract concept of emotion easier for an audience of all ages: Joy looks like a star, Sadness reminds of a tear, Anger is a bright fire, Fear resembles a nerve, and Disgust a broccoli.
Inside Out is a mosaic of brilliant, never banal, animated metaphors, which, with skill and taste, are able to present to a viewer of any ages a series of not always easy concepts about oneself, along a kind of kaleidoscopic introspective journey.
A movie that does not leave room to banality and/or approximation, and in order to do that it summoned Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman, California University Psychology professors, among the most rated experts in the field. They recently told in a New York Times interview everything about their presence in the writing process, explaining that what we see in the movie is just a transposition of meticulous scientific studies. They said the research “proved that our identities are defined by specific emotions, which shape our perception of the world and how we express ourselves and what reactions we provoke in others.”
Everything in Inside Out is built on solid foundations of studies and references: Plato, Spinoza, Descartes, Freud, Ignatius of Loyola…. All of this without boredom, without coming out as an annoying self-satisfied mishmash that uses animation just as a pretext, and instead turning out to be, in the end, tolerable and in fact more than enjoyable for viewers of all ages.
Once again Pixar teaches fiction and cinematography, once again you leave the cinema (or, if you are me, the plane) with that terrific feeling of having got rid of a weight on your heart, sharing some good tears in front of a movie you can’t wait to watch again with the people you love.
In the meanwhile outside, just like a disgusting pandemic, the scourge of the Minions yellow wave (the omnipresent yellow suppositories you find nowadays even on funeral parlours catalogues…) is spreading.
I hate you, bloody parasites, and mediocre products for the masses, results of pre-digested and over-abused archetypes of easy enjoyment. I damn your freaking little voices, your little insufferable dungarees, your bloody little moves that have been done before by a billion of your just as annoying brownnoser ancestors, from Alvin and the Chipmunks, to “I like to move it” king Julian, to Beverly Hills Chihuahua, to Jar Jar Binks, to that lousy Great Sultan of annoyance: Furby.
I hate you because in a time when on YouTube kittens videos get more clicks than Brazzers is far too easy to play on a consumerist entertainment, which is not capable of offering anything more than its grotesque and cute yellow face, its disgusting falsetto voice.
Thank you Pixar for showing instead, once again, with a feature film of unquestionable quality, that it is possible to teach and to give something to the viewer to take home after the movie. Something different from a yellow soft toy, probably made in a North Korea factory, using the processing waste from the next thermonuclear conflict. Something like a base on which you can build your own personal idea, something like some nice, liberating tears because, as you will find out in the movie theatre, there is no Joy without some Sadness.