Disney and Pixar have flip-flopped positions in 2012. This summer, Pixar made an animated movie (‘Brave’) that only reached Disney’s typical heights, and now Disney Animation has made one that rises to Pixar’s old level: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’. Unless DreamWorks’ upcoming ‘Rise of Guardians’ is extraordinary, my pick for Best Animated Feature is already decided.
The premise of ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ isn’t all that far off from ‘Toy Story’: When the kids go home for the night, all the characters from arcade videogames come to life and reveal who they truly are. This turns out to be depressing for our central character, Ralph (John C. Reilly), who plays the villain in his game ‘Fix-It Felix Jr.’. All Ralph wants is for the other characters to look at him for who he really is, not the villain he plays in the game.
Ralph hits rock bottom in the beginning of the film, and is told that he’d gain respect and friendship if he could earn awards and medals like his in-game nemesis, Felix (Jack McBrayer). With this thought in mind, Ralph heads to the hub of all gaming – the power strip that all of the games in the arcade are plugged into – and tries to jump into other games for accolades. Despite making a crazy little friend (Sarah Silverman), others forces work against him. On top of that, everyone from the ‘Fix-It Felix Jr.’ world risks having their game unplugged (which means death eternal) without their villain.
Based on the trailers, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ leaves a sense that one has to be familiar with or have grown up playing the iconic arcade games from ’80s in order to enjoy the movie. That’s not actually the case. However, if you know games like ‘Qbert’, you’ll get a lot more of the background jokes than viewers who don’t. Once Ralph begins his journey, those silly Easter Eggs are left aside and the film gets really good. The story is very well written, so much so that I didn’t see the end coming. On top of that, like the title character, ‘Ralph’ has a lot of heart. In the press screening that I attended, a little girl sitting just a few seats down the row started sobbing because she was engulfed in one of the more emotional scenes.
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is a true win for Disney Animation. It has a little something for everyone – young and old, boys or girls. Disney has successfully kept up with the times while telling a classic tale that both I and my five-year-old daughter will not soon forget.