Parents — and I am one of them — are more aware today than ever of the power Hollywood has over our habits, our time and our money. They say movie studios are heartless corporations only looking to make a buck.
For once “they” are wrong — and so am I.
On Thursday, The Orange County Register, the flagship publication of my employer, Freedom Communications, published a story about a 10-year-old Huntington Beach, Calif., girl named Colby Curtin. Like many people of many different ages, Colby was enchanted with the Disney-Pixar film Up ever since she saw it advertised.
But Colby was dying of vascular cancer. She would not make it to a movie theater. A family friend contacted Pixar, and the CGI animation company actually sent a representative to the Curtin home with a DVD of the movie for a private viewing. He even brought gifts: Up merchandise such as plush toys and a poster, and an “adventure book” like the one seen in the movie.
By the time of the special screening, Colby was in so much pain she could no longer open her eyes — but the miracle would not be denied. Colby’s mother described the action for her, as if it were a bedtime story.
Of course, the DVD left with the Pixar employee — the movie is still exclusively in theaters, after all — but the memories he left behind would last a lifetime.
For Colby, that lifetime would only last another seven hours. She died June 10, with her divorced parents nearby.
The story has taken on a life of its own, generating worldwide e-mails, hundreds of reader comments and even a music video on YouTube by a cynical New York singer and songwriter. But probably the best thing it has generated is goodwill, awareness, and hope. As one commenter wrote: “Bravo to Pixar and the employee who brought joy to this little girl’s last day.”
Conspicuously absent from commenting is Pixar. The company easily could have staged a press conference or given itself a plug by speaking to the Register, but execs aren’t talking about it or naming the employee on the mercy mission.
Perhaps when Up comes out on DVD they will include a dedication to Colby Curtin, or a “special feature” about the visit, or a documentary about cancer and the other evils that make being a child more painful than it already is.
Whatever they do, you can honor Colby with a donation to the Newport Elementary after-school program: Newport Elementary School Foundation, 1327 West Balboa Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA 92661.
And you can honor her, and Pixar’s gesture, by reading a story to your children, or watching a film that they enjoy — together.
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Images courtesy the Orange County Register and Disney-Pixar