Just when you thought Disney Studios couldn’t possibly endear themselves to yet another group of people, they release a heartwarming, hilarious film that appeals to one of the most excitable crowds ever to sit down on a couch: video game enthusiasts.Wreck-It Ralph is a great film and the fact that it binds together gamers of every age and background, while still remaining very much in the Walt Disney family of cinema, is a noteworthy achievement. After seeing the movie, I can safely say we’ve leveled up.
As a kid, I remember video games as counterculture, something others mocked about me. But times have changed, and the geek lifestyle has now found its way into pop culture with gamer television shows, podcasts and websites dominating the media landscape. The gaming industry now rakes in a whopping 10.5 billion dollars per year. Almost as much as HowToBeADad.com.
At first glance, it would seem Disney’s obvious answer for creating this kind of movie would be a high score at the box office on a massively explosive market of consumers. But you’d be wrong. Ralph disproves the money over material concept, out of hand. It’s simply a great family film with hysterical performances for both parents and kids.
Your first clue is the film’s cast. Wreck-It Ralph has a gaggle of comedic stars like Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman, who don’t get out of bed for just any script. More revealing to me, however, is the film’s lead, John C. Reilly. He’d never done an animated film before, and his pairing with the main character makes absolute sense. He lends incredible comedic timing and a rooted, theatrical depth to Ralph.
Your second clue would be the painstaking authenticity of the overarching video game universe envisioned by the filmmakers. In addition to having multiple actors voice their characters in the same room to create real chemistry and improvisation, Director Rich Moore and Producer Clark Spencer spent hours upon hours speaking to game makers about using their characters, often in subtle ways, throughout the tale. Fortunately, Toy Story blazed a trail for placement of familiar toys and characters to have fuller expression on film. In this game world, all the game characters connect and interact. It’s magical.
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All images care of Disney Films
A MAN ON A MISSION
The story follows a digital man named Ralph who’s uncomfortable in his own skin and hates his job. He wants to better himself and do more with his life but he’s confined by his pixelated surroundings. Ralph yearns for a life outside the monotony and prejudice of “Fix It Felix,” his video game home. You see Felix is the “good guy” in this scenario and Ralph, the bad guy.
He’s looking for redemption, and validation that he is a “good” guy after all. While a bit self-centered, Ralph is still basically a nice enough guy battling his station in life and his social insecurities. He’s an outsider.
Ralph goes rogue (or “turbo” as the characters call it) and ventures outside his videogamescape in search of fame and glory to fix his personal conflict. The film’s lead quickly learns he’s not equipped to deal with the costs of trying to be something he’s not, seeking to solve his problems with answers outside himself. Ultimately, he and his compatriot, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) find true redemption in breaking the mold of their predicted story lines and transcend the fixed expectations of their respective game codes. The two friends realize their true worth doesn’t derive from the perception of onlookers or even their game players, but upon the pursuit of their own happiness and self-worth.
As Ralph explains in the film, “I think gamers call us ‘retro’ which means old but cool.” We, too, are reminded of our own unique legitimacy in a world that often seems set in code with predestined levels and opponents.