I was a child of the ’80s, which means that I spent far too much time and far too many quarters than I should have on video games. So along comes the recent Disney flick Wreck-It Ralph, which is practically an homage to those bygone 8-bit gaming masterpieces.
The story is this: Ralph is the bad guy in an old-school video game. In the game, his job is to wreck an apartment building only to have it fixed by the hero and namesake of the game Fix-It Felix, Jr.
But Ralph has been doing this over and over for over 20 years, and is tired of being the bad guy, so he leaves the game in a quest to become a good guy. In the process, he gets mixed up in games he’s not supposed to be a part of, and ends up trying to save a character who is supposedly a “glitch” in a racing game.
Meanwhile, he also needs to fix problems he’s introduced from another game , or else the racing game and Fix-It Felix, Jr. will be shut down forever.
Okay, so it’s a boilerplate Disney storyline: don’t be selfish and mess with things that affect other people/worlds because you don’t know what might happen. And it’s predictable: good guys–including Ralph who is a good guy acting as a bad guy for the sake of his game–win, bad guys lose, and everything is restored to normal and life goes on happily because everyone learned a valuable lesson. But it’s finally a good Disney computer animated film that doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not, unlike some previous attempts in Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt.
There are plenty of nods to the rest of the video gaming world, a lot of them very funny, either having fun with specific games or with the genres they represent. So in that sense, it’s really well written, since it needed to integrate so many video game characters, styles, and types into an original story like this. Plus, it was amazing to see the how hard the animators worked to make sure the look of the look of the game genres were maintained.
It’s been a few years since Pixar and Disney merged. And while Disney once was the height of storytelling, Pixar has long since taken that title. Now they seem to be bringing it back.
I’m not saying this was a great movie by any means. It didn’t have the emotional depth of the classic Disney films or even of Up, Pixar’s amazing triumph of a few years ago. But it was smart, heartfelt, witty, and well-made. So, overall, I’ll give it Three out of Five Stars.
See you tomorrow.