We all have felt out of place at some point in our lives. And in Disney’s new animated feature this analogy couldn’t be more literal: what happens when a character wants more out of his “life” inside the video game he is a part of?. What do you do when you need to “reset” your own future?
WRECK IT RALPH is definitively the most adult film the studio has made after it began releasing computer animated features in 2005. Its efforts always seemed to be aimed to younger demographics, with films like TANGLED or CHICKEN LITTLE. But in this case there’s a Pixar “head” as one of the executive producers, and you can tell from its opening sequence John Lasseter ‘s spot-on touch for reaching broad audiences is all over it. Just like with the TOY STORY franchise, he managed to balance the appeal of its subject matter to work for everyone, and WRECK IT RALPH is no exception of this.
Directed by Rich Moore, the film successfully balances between making fun and paying homage to video games (Moore’s TV background includes The Simpsons, Futurama and The Critic, all shows that mimic that same approach and tone).
The voice talent is incredible as well. John C Reilly as Ralph is an emotional “gentle giant”, Jane Lynch as the snarky and funny Calhoun, and Sarah Silverman plays a precocious little “glitch” named Vanellope, who shares Ralph’s dreams of self improvement in her own game “Sugar Rush”.
Do you have to be a “gamer” to enjoy this film? Not at all, but if you are or have been fond of video games at one point of your life you are in for a treat. The film takes place inside a video arcade, and the way they handle the differences between the old and new games is brilliant, even in its animation. Every game work as a world of its own in terms of color, pace and character design, dedicating enough time in each to satisfy fans of all ages. From classics like Sonic or Q*bert to more recent entries, there are moments where the film becomes an “Easter Egg Hunt” for characters in the background that is nothing but pure fun and even nostalgia. There’s also a particular sequence themed by Skrillex that is an absolute blast to watch.
But where the film really shines is in the development of its premise: What happens when you want more out of your life? What lengths are you willing to go to improve it? Does your actions really define who you are? This is where you can tell Lasseter is on board, since he’s no strange (or afraid) to inject existentialist dilemmas into family films, which has become one of Pixar’s biggest stand points in general throughout its filmography.
Wreck it Ralph is moving, a lot of fun, very creative and at the same time surprisingly touching and inspiring. Is one of those films you can watch with almost any member of your family, without feeling you are seeing a “kids movie”. Who knew video games could work as a reflection of the metaphors in our lives? I’ll tell you this: while watching it I’ve never felt, well, more 16-bit.