Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2080:
Ragù Commercial - 10 year old Boy Walks in on Parents

This commercial for Ragù Spaghetti Sauce is utterly hilarious - the first time I saw it (during a break in the Olympic coverage Sunday night) - I laughed for what seemed like five minutes. Makes me wonder what they told the young actor to get him to make those facial expressions. But as funny as they are - his nonverbals are not as accurate as they could be ...

During the 0:11 - 0:16 segment, just after "Junior" sees Mommy & Daddy, the facial expression the director is trying to achieve is one of "Surprise-Shock". His eye lids are open mildly-to-moderately wider than normal, however they should be opened a bit wider and most certainly would be at such a Sea-change moment in the young and naive.

During this same segment, the boy's mouth should be opened very wide - in a vertically-elongated oval. At such moments of surprise-shock, it would also be very typical for one or both hands to rapidly reach up and cover the mouth.

A few seconds later (0:19 - 0:20), the shocked child goes into a semi-fear expression with a bit of pain-empathy mixed in (This transition to another emotion IS accurate - as surprise (very rapidly) and surprise-shock (somewhat less rapid) are almost always followed by another emotion. Once again, his body language needs refinement. Eyelids open widely when fear is present. His lids could be opened a good bit wider. We should see more of a "white and wide" appearance.

With the feeling and expression of fear, "Junior" should also be bearing his upper and lower teeth with the corners of his mouth pulled straight back or with a bit of a down turn. With fear, the neck muscles would be tightened and tented-up. In addition his nostril openings would be flared. With fear-empathy we would also expect to see his central forehead contracted, with the lateral portions relaxed. 

While the kid did a pretty good job - and the director fantastic job creatively (and here he should really win a Clio Award), he could use a good bit of body language knowledge to refine these expressions so that he better captures the emotions of the moment.

Just gotta love Ragù.