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Boys & Their Toys

caines arcadeI hope by now you have seen the short movie, Caine’s Arcade. It has captured the internet’s collective heart for the past five days as it tells the story of a 9-year old boy who built an elaborate arcade made of cardboard boxes one summer at his dad’s used auto parts shop in East LA. (If you haven’t seen it, STOP. Don’t pass GO. Then come back).

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I will never ever look at a cardboard box in the same way again!

That was a comment left by an adult on the Caine’s Arcade video page.

YES! That is exactly right.

And, that is what the original Toy Story did for us all. By the time the credits were rolling, we would never look at toys the same way again. Pixar made us believe that toys have feelings which are inextricably tied to their purpose… when toys are played with they are happy. And then, those smartypants at Pixar did it to us again. After Toy Story 3, we were looking at toys differently yet again. Toys are meant to be played with and then recycled for a new generation of kids to love.

But throughout the Toy Story trilogy, we felt mad love for young Andy because he respected toys. He knew how to play with, to love and to care for them. We all adored Toy Story’s main character, the cowboy toy Woody. And, when Andy held Woody and made him feel like the only toy on this planet, this made us love Andy even more. Toy Story was one big love story about a boy and his best toy.

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When I met Caine, I thought of Andy from Toy Story. The passion, the incredible imagination, the thoughtfully constructed play. It was uncanny.

In the short movie, Caine wants to play and have customers for his arcade. That is his one goal.

Caine’s Arcade’s filmaker Nirvan Mullick gets it. That toys should be played with. Especially if they are of cardboard and made lovingly by a 9-year old boy. And Nirvan helps.

He makes Caine’s day.

And, in the process our day is made too.

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Last night, my 9-year old son asked to rewatch Caine’s Arcade, asking to turn off Nickelodeon. He told me it’s one of his favorite movies. He wants to tell all his friends about it. He went to bed singing the “Caine’s Aracde” theme song.

Instead of figuratively shin-kicking me asking to go see Hunger Games at the theater, my son this morning watched the Being Elmo documentary– a story about a young boy who loves puppets and follows his dreams to work at Sesame Street.

At one pivotal scene in Being Elmo, my son realized “this is just like Caine’s Arcade.”

Yes, son it kinda is.

Thank you Nirvan for Caine’s Arcade, thank you John Lasseter for Toy Story, and thank you Constance Marks for Being Elmo. Thank you for recognizing the magical relationships and amplifying its inspiring message.

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