A year after Guardians of the Galaxy was released to theaters, director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt both took to the Internet to talk about the impact it had on them...but that was just the start.
Last weekend, parent and moviegoer Josh Dunlap posted a message to Gunn's Facebook page, thanking him for the impact his film had on his dyspraxic son.
Dyspraxia, a neurological condition that causes motor and speech problems, limited Sawyer Dunlap's vocabulary to just a few words -- but after he saw Guardians last year, his language skills allowed him to relate to, and take on, Groot's trademark phrase.
You can see Dunlap's post below.
Gunn shared the post and thanked Dunlap for his story, writing that "I love making movies because of stories like this."
He elaborated to Today:
"I'm incredibly touched by stories from folks like [Josh] and his family. In the end I feel like I've done my job as a filmmaker if people feel closer to each other walking out of the theater than they do walking in," Gunn wrote in a statement. "Guardians of the Galaxy is about a group of outcasts, FOR outcasts, who come together despite their differences to form a family. Anything about the story and the characters that helps to increase the bonds between actual family members is awesome."
"When Groot came out, he kept saying 'I am Groot,' and if he saw a tree ... he would say Groot," said Natasha Dunlap, Sawyer's mother.
This isn't the first viewer testimonial about the impact the film's characters have had on special needs children. Shortly after the film's release, Gunn shared a Tumblr post from blogger Merry Weather Blue about how Drax the Destroyer inspired their younger brother, who has autism.
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax has trouble understanding metaphors, which is also something that is common in children with autism. When the little brother saw Drax struggle with metaphors, he screamed, "He's like me! He can't do metaphors!"
According to the post, seeing a superhero similar to himself on the big screen inspired the younger brother, who had been quoting Drax lines from the movie, studying vocabulary test words, and telling everyone that he knows that people with autism can be superheroes.