Pixar story supervisor illustrates classic movie scenes in grown-up children’s book

Movies-R-Fun
Chronicle Books/Courtesy

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Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese movies have found themselves in a most peculiar place: a children’s book. Well, more like a children’s book for people that were kids over a decade ago. Josh Cooley, a story supervisor at Pixar who has worked on classics such as “Cars,” “Up” and “The Incredibles,” has transformed famous scenes from R-rated movies into a picture book with “Movies R Fun!.”

Cooley created a book that is a collection of 39 illustrations in a style that is reminiscent of the classic Pixar animations. The movies represented range from those of decades past like “The Godfather” to more current flicks like “No Country for Old Men.” But the movies all have one thing in common: they are totally inappropriate for children.

“I was just thinking of the humor of making those movies that aren’t for kids look like they are appropriate for kids — which they totally aren’t!” Cooley said. “It’s basically for us — it’s for the ones that grew up liking these movies and liking children’s books and seeing what that would look like together.”

Beyond the humor of seeing these violent, sexy and vulgar movies rendered in such a unique, “childish” manner, there is a more subtle wit spread throughout the book that makes it even that much more enjoyable. Some of the captions, such as the one for the famous shower scene in “Psycho” that reads “‘Eek, Eek, Eek, Eek, Eek!’ went the orchestra,” have a clever flair and brings a lighthearted tone to these otherwise intense scenes.

Courtesy Chronicle Books

Courtesy Chronicle Books. A scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”

This particular “Psycho” illustration is Cooley’s favorite in the book because it allowed him to re-imagine the iconic scene in his own vision. “I couldn’t just take an image from the movie and do it, ‘cause the shower scene is all done in close-ups with like 80 cuts or something like that, so I had to kind of create that image out of my imagination of watching the scene,” explained Cooley.

On March 1, Cooley and Chronicle Books hosted a book launch and gallery event at Tr!ckster, a graphic arts gallery near Ici in Berkeley. At the show, enlarged versions of the illustrations from the book, such as the ones of “Apocalypse Now,” “The Terminator,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and many more, were framed on the wall for people to buy. Among these were a few 3D diorama versions specially made for the show by Cooley’s wife, Erin Cooley. Most notable of these diorama versions was the image depicting the scene from “The Shining” where Danny sees the twin ghosts standing at the end of the hall while on his tricycle. The natural depth of the scene fit perfectly in the 3D format.

These diorama versions were not originally planned, just like the book itself. “The idea [for the book] started kind of as a joke. I just did one of the images just on my own … for fun, and I showed it to some of my friends and they were like, ‘Oh, this is hilarious, you need to do more …’ And I was like, ‘OK, yeah, this is pretty fun,’” Cooley said. After self-publishing 1,000 copies and selling out at Comic-Con, Cooley was approached by Chronicle Books to make a book that was twice as long.

His friends continue to give him suggestions for other movie scenes to illustrate, supplying plenty of material for a possible second book, but Cooley remains unsure about a follow-up at the moment. Regardless, he has provided cinephiles a book that combines their adult life with their childhood in an incredibly enjoyable way.

Taran Moriates is the arts columnist. Contact him at [email protected].

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