Josh Cooley is one of those guys who goes around quoting lines of dialogue from his favorite movies. He also happens to be a trained artist who feasted on Little Golden Books as a child and now works at Pixar on family-friendly pictures like The Incredibles, Wall*E, and Brave. Cooley says, “Since I’m a big fan of both movies and kids book illustrations, I just kind of squashed the two together.”
The result: Movies R Fun! The book juxtaposes dialogue from Pulp Fiction, The Terminator, Alien, No Country For Old Men, American Beauty and other edgy masterpieces with illustrations that look as if they could have been ripped from the pages of old-fashioned children’s books.
“It started out kind of as a prank,” Cooley tells us. “I’ve always loved the subversive humor you find in Mad Magazine, especially from the ’60s, and decided as a joke to do a drawing of the Big Lebowski in the style of a children’s book.”
First, Cooley illustrated John Goodman’s Walter character telling a tavern mate, “You want a toe? I can get you a toe. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon, with nail polish.” Then, Cooley says, “I showed that drawing to some my friends at Pixar and they were howling.”
Following on his triumphant Coen Brothers homage, Cooley decided to keep going. He explains, “Quoting movies is something I’ve been doing my whole life so creating this book gave me an excuse to go back and watch all the movies that I love.”
Especially inspired by Golden Books illustrator Mel Crawford, Cooley invented a digital tool that emulated old-school gouache and oil paint stylings. He used that to produce a privately published book bound in thick cardboard covers, Golden Book style, and brought 1,000 copies to Comic-Con in 2010. Pre-hyping the work on his blog, Cooley nearly sold out the entire run.
Cooley fattened up his series for the new Chronicle Books edition, subtitled A Collection of Cinematic Classics for the Pre-Film School Cinephile. “I made Movies R Fun for adults,” says Cooley, whose five-year-old daughter will have to wait another 12 years to read the material. “It’s not a kids book, at all.”
Even so, the language in Movies R Fun remains strictly PG-13. For example, Bruce Willis’s Die Hard hero John McClane shouts “Yippee-Kay-Yay mother #@&*$%.” The inclusion of actual curse words was “off the table,” Cooley says. “It’s all implied sex and violence.”
Check out the slide show for more of Cooley’s re-imainged action scenes from Movies R Fun.