3 Reasons to Love “Live Action Toy Story”

DSC_0070Toy Story (1995) was only the second feature-length movie Cora watched in its entirety.  I put it on for her one cold, dreary afternoon a few weeks ago, without any prompting.  I chose it because it is only 81 minutes long and because I love it.  The music.  The animation.  The characters.  The story.  The way it models imaginative play.  Unlike so many other movies intended for kids, I find it hard to find anything about this one that gets under my skin – personally or politically.  I wanted her to see it, to share it with her.

She fell in love immediately.  For the past two weeks, our days have been filled with talk of Buzz and Woody.  Buzz flying down the stairs.  Woody sleeping on the couch.  The pair making off in a Playmobil police car.  So I was primed when, this afternoon, I read about two young guys who also fell in love with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys.  So in love, that they spent the past 2 years creating their own live-action version of the film frame-for-frame.  There are a few things about this story that really hit home for me as an art educator.

Jonason Pauley and Jesse Perrotta were 17 and 18 respectively when they started the film, as a hobby project.  If they had been my students, I would have happily granted them high school credit for this, excused them from classes, and advised them to complete it as a senior project.  It’s is a fine example of self-directed, project-based learning that is now being seen and evaluated by people all over the world, including the animators at Pixar.

Pauley and Perrotta’s remake may remind some of the Jack Black/Mos Def film, Be Kind, Rewind (2008).  This is another low-budget affair complete with visible strings and wires.  Evidence of the artists’ hands is visible in every scene.  And that’s what gives the film its charm.  As one YouTube commenter suggested, it’s magical.  This project is evidence that kids, even teenagers, can find ways to loose themselves in acts of creative play.

When the team posted their film on YouTube this past weekend, they entered into the participatory culture enabled by Web 2.0.  They shifted from being consumers to producers of media.  And now the cycle will start over again.  I have no doubt this project will launch a thousand like it, though I’m not sure how many teens will have the perseverance to take it this far.


10 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Love “Live Action Toy Story”

  1. My son Casey is 18 – he grew up w/ Woody & Buzz. We watched all three Toy Story movies together when they came out…we teared up at the end of TS 3. So, I can totally connect w/ these young movie makers. Now, my 6 year old, Kenzy, is playing w/ Casey’s “old” Buzz and Woody; in fact, Buzz’s helmet broke and Kenzy needs a “new” Buzz. Thanks for sharing this blog and pointing out the parcipatory culture affect – I’ll continue to participate and share with my kids too.

  2. Someone once said, “If you have fun doing your job, you never work a day in your life”. I’m so glad Pixar is taking a look at this! Talk about a great opportunity for those young men. This is project-based learning at it’s best!

  3. I posted a link to this movie yesterday on my facebook with the comment “I can’t decide if this is genius or totally bonkers.” Admittedly…I haven’t watched the movie in it’s entirety, but I’ve watched parts. And it is truly amazing. Since i have a 13 year old and an almost 10 year old, I feel as though I have the movie memorized. So, watching the live action version is fascinating in a way, because we know the movie so well. Seeing it interpreted in a new way with the same soundtrack is a bit of a mind-blower for people like me who are so familiar with the original. The level of detail is nothing short of amazing. I have plans to watch this movie in its entirety with both of my kids with our mac mini hooked up to the television so that we can all enjoy it on the big(er) screen this weekend.

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  5. All I can say is “WOW”! If only more kids could put down their electronics and commit to a creative project like this!

  6. Wonderful example of creativity & participatory media. 7 million views. Wow.

    You wonder…if Pixar had enforced their copyright and said no, they could not adapt and post it, what would have become of this project? We probably would never have seen or heard about it, which means a blog post like this (which I see as an educational resource for other educators) would never have been written, and we would not be having this discussion about the importance of play, participatory media, and project-based learning.

    • Thanks for checking out my post Clint. I loved yours on Rosea Lake.
      I think the question of Pixar’s permissiveness is really important to explore. At the time I wrote this, I was trying really hard to figure out exactly how they worked around that. I mean, how Pixar ultimately justified giving the okay, but I couldn’t find that information. At what point do we tell students appropriation is not okay when copyrighted materials are involved? Consider Rosea Lake and the British lingerie company. If that hadn’t been a commercial enterprise, would we have been bothered so much by their borrowing of her image?

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