Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original Story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
By Ron Suskind
Movies mirror humanity, for better or for worse.
We see ourselves in the flickering light and, in rare cases, we see within ourselves. I place Pixar’s “Inside Out” among those rarities.
My family, and others like us, felt an especially powerful expression of its artistic value. Our youngest son, Owen, is autistic and, like other “differently abled” kindred, he relies on movies, quite intently, to reflect his innermost feelings.
We all have something called “mirror neurons,” that primarily mirror waves of inputs from someone else’s face so we can, literally, feel what they feel. It actually works the same way with movies, which is why so many of us walk around with characters and scenes in our heads. Mirror neurons of folks with autism tend to get overwhelmed by face-to-face interactions, but still manage to be fired by videos. They feel movies even more powerfully than the rest of us.
By actually charting the interior landscape of emotion and memory in a vivid and accessible way — turning it into a heart-stopping adventure story — “Inside Out” becomes a cinematic gift. My son, now 24, has seen it five times and uses it to manage emotions like sadness and fear (both characters from the movie) in his real life. Wrestling with a thorny problem a few weeks back, he said, “I want to put joy back in charge of my life.” He did.
Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, is now a member of our family. And we welcome her.
Hey Amy, free for the holidays? We’re serving joy.
Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of six bestselling books, most recently, “Life, Animated, a Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism.”