Thursday, November 1, 2012

Man on Film: Wreck-It Ralph

In Wreck-It Ralph, Disney has produced its first full-length animated feature that has piqued my interest in at least twenty years when I was pumped for The Rescuers Down Under. Whether or not I actually saw that film or not is a fact I do not recall, but I remember my eleven-year-old self thinking that it looked pretty cool. Successfully mining the thirtysomething nerd demographic's limitless need to feed the pangs of nostalgia with any media they can get their hands on, Wreck-It Ralph is casting a much larger net into the adult realm than Disney has been in the habit of doing with recent releases like Tangled or The Princess and the Frog. It would be positively shocking if it didn't register much more meaningfully with adult males than Disney's recent fare.

Now if this was simply an ineffectual and shameless attempt at pandering to and exploiting our collective youth, I wouldn't be saying this. Wreck-It Ralph hits all the right notes en route to a spectacularly smart and fun ride down a lane that's not quite Memory but certainly has enough callbacks to our misspent youth to make us all feel right at home in the arcade.

As one can surmise from the trailer, the titular character is Wreck-It Ralph the villain from an old eight-bit video game, Fix-It Felix Jr. that is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. As it rings in that momentous occasion, Ralph stands at the edge of an existential precipice, finding little fulfillment in his life as the force of destruction in the predestined world that has been constructed for them. Tired of being hated and feared, Ralph decides he is going to go on a hero's journey, venturing across the arcade to other games to bring back a medal to put Felix's many medals to shame.

Ralph's journey is a blast. Voiced by the incredibly likable John C. Reilly, the innocently brutish protagonist rumbles his way through other video game worlds with hilarity and hijinks ensuing. Unfortunately, his desire to strike out and play the hero has widespread ramifications, as his place in the world, while unappreciated, is vital to its survival as without him their world that has been constructed falls apart.

This being director Rich Moore's first foray into feature film direction, one might initially be concerned, but Moore cut his teeth directing a bunch of episodes of The Simpson's and Futurama. At the very least, one could reasonably assume that being true to the fanboy demographic should be in his wheelhouse. That assumption is proven to be a safe one, as Wreck-It Ralph delivers just as much pleasure as any of the Pixar standouts of late like Up, Wall-E, or Toy Story 3. It actually deftly explores adult themes of existential longing and bringing meaning to one's life. The Bad-Anon support group meetings are particularly hilarious, even if it may rush completely over the heads of the children in the audience. Buoyed by additional superb voice work from Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, Alan Tudyk, and Jane Lynch and an exceedingly clever script from Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston, Wreck-It Ralph is a rousing success.

1 comment:

Shelby said...

Is it really an 8-bit game though? I'm somewhat certain most arcade games of this ilk (Donkey Kong, Dig-Dug, The Big Score) were actually 16-bit. Though that sounds wrong. I really just wanted to make a Private School reference.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...