Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The most important story about Pixar's Up that you will ever read

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Saturday, June 20, 2009

When 10-year-old Colby Curtin saw the trailer for Pixar's new movie Up she had just one final thing to accomplish before her time ended on this world: she had to see that movie. Thanks to the efforts of a family friend that cold called Pixar as well as the employees at the company, last week Colby got her wish and watched Up. She passed away only seven hours later, succumbing to the cancer that was destroying her body.

The only reason this incredibly heartbreaking story is getting heard is due to The Orange County Register and writer Annie Burris. The Register heard about the act and contacted Colby's mother Lisa Curtin to confirm, which she did. Nobody at Pixar wished to comment on the event, leaving it up to Colby's family to decide if they wanted the public to know about their daughter's passing and how she wanted so badly to see Up before it was too late for her.

Within a day after the friend of the Curtin family had contacted Pixar a representative from the studio had spoken with Colby's mom and arrangements made for a Pixar employee to come visit the Curtin home with a copy of Up on DVD. The next day the Pixar representative knocked on Colby's door and brought with them not just a copy of the movie to watch but also a gift basket of Up related collectibles. The Pixar employee talked a bit about the making of the movie and then stayed to watch it with Colby. When it was too hard for Colby to open her eyes Colby's mom described what was on the screen to her daughter.

There's more to the story than that and I think it's better told if you read it for yourself. Colby's simple but incredibly important request should remind us that away from the hype and business of making movies, films can have an incredible impact on a person's life. A lot of people like to dream about the fame and fortune that accompanies success in Hollywood. The people at Pixar certainly deserve all of the kudos and rewards that their movies have brought them but when you hear about a story like Colby's and realize that the people working for that company made this screening happen for that little girl in such short order, and without any desire whatsoever for anyone to ever know that it happened, I think that's incredible. There are plenty of headlines to read these days about the corporate culture of greed and its lack of empathy for the human condition, so when a company like Pixar does something so human and just for one family, I think that they should be commended -- and that you might remember the story of Colby the next time you see Up.

-Orange County Register.

Colby Curtin got her final wish.

The 10-year-old girl desperately wanted to see the new Disney-Pixar movie, "Up." But the cancer-stricken girl was too sick to go to a theater.

Thanks to a family friend who got in touch with the movie studio Pixar, an employee of the Emeryville-based company arrived at Colby's home with a DVD copy of the movie, The Orange County Register reported Friday. The girl died later that night.

Colby's mother, Lisa, said she had asked her daughter if she could hang on until the movie arrived.

"I'm ready (to die), but I'm going to wait for the movie," she said her daughter replied.

"Up" is the animated tale of a grumpy old man who, after his wife's death, tries to fulfill their joint dream of visiting South America by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating away.

"When I watched it, I had really no idea about the content of the theme of the movie," Colby's mother told the Register. "I just know that word 'Up' and all of the balloons and I swear to you, for me it meant that (Colby) was going to go up. Up to heaven."

Colby, who was diagnosed with vascular cancer in 2005, saw previews for the film in April.

"It was from then on, she said, 'I have to see that movie. It is so cool,"' family friend Carole Lynch said.

But the girl's health began to deteriorate. On June 4, Curtin asked a hospice company to bring a wheelchair so that her daughter could go to a movie theater but the chair was not delivered over the weekend, Curtin said.

By June 9, Colby was too sick to go anywhere.

Another family friend, Terrell Orum, called both Pixar and Disney, which owns the animation studio. The message was received by Pixar officials, who agreed to send someone to Colby's house the next day with a copy of "Up" for a private screening, Orum said.

The employee arrived with the DVD, stuffed animals of characters and other movie memorabilia.

Colby was unable to open her eyes to see the movie so her mother described the scenes. When her mother asked if she enjoyed it, the girl nodded, Curtin said.

The Pixar employee left after the movie, taking the DVD, which has not been released. Lynch, who was with the family during the screening, said the employee's "eyes were just welled up."

A call to Pixar seeking comment was not immediately returned Friday.

Colby, with her parents nearby, died later that night.

Her mother said one of the memorabilia left by the Pixar employee was an "adventure book" based on a scrapbook that, in the movie, is kept by the wife of the main character.

"I'll have to fill those adventures in for her," Lisa Curtin said of her daughter.

Last week I did my movie review of the film UP and I still can not really believe what I saw in that film.

I have been one of Disney sharpest critics for their distorting in historical films, (Alamo, Remember the Titans, The Rookie) but in this case i find myself actually wanting to stand up and cheer for them for doing this simple act of kindness for a little girl who lost her fight with cancer.

Well Done Disney and Pixar, A job well done indeed.

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