Give this Movie a Medal!
Originally Released: 2012
2012 was a really good year for animation. When the time of the Academy Awards came around, I was quite torn over which of the five nominees was my favorite. Each was wildly different, but still extremely entertaining (for the record, the films nominated that year were Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, and Pirates! Band of Misfits. If you haven’t yet, go see them. All of them). At the time, I would have been satisfied if any of the films took home the Oscar. But looking back, I think my favorite has emerged, and it is Wreck-It Ralph. Those who took the time to see this movie at the theaters were in for a real treat (and as an added bonus, the short Paperman was the best short that either Pixar or Disney had done in years, and was part of the bill!).
One common saying at the time is that Disney and Pixar kind of swapped roles when they made the films of 2012. Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph felt more like the innovative, bursting-with-creative-energy Pixar films we had all grown to love, while Pixar’s Brave was a much more traditional Disney Princess fairy tale. I like that description, because it is mostly accurate when describing the films. Wreck-It Ralph is bursting with creativity and its themes and characters have as much depth and heart to them as Sully, Woody, or any other Beloved Pixar staple. Heck, the only thing really missing is a John Ratzenburger cameo voice appearance.
But even sans the Ratzenburger, Wreck-It Ralph has plenty of cameos and easter eggs for any nerd to enjoy. If you like arcades or old-school video games, you will love searching through Wreck-It Ralph to find all the little references littered throughout the film. And alternatively, even if you are just a Disney fan, then the filmmakers included old Disney properties as well for those with the keen eyes. I’ve always thought the easter eggs and hidden references were fun, and Wreck-It Ralph is a goldmine of hidden references.
But films don’t survive alone on easter eggs. Luckily, the the trio of Ralph, Felix, and Vanellope von Schweetz form an extremely likable entourage. By the end of the film, you want Ralph to win his medal and get a little recognition, you want Felix to get the girl, and you want little Vanellope to be able to race and compete in her game. Wreck-It Ralph trods the familiar underdog story path, but it does so very effectively, and it serves as a great reminder about labelling people and dismissing them based on first impressions. Or, to borrow a phrase from Zangief, “Just because you are bad guy, doesn’t mean you are bad guy.”
If you’ve read my Disney posts for long, you’ll know by now that I enjoy movies that are entertaining, but I especially enjoy movies that both entertain and have something good to teach. I believe that Wreck-It Ralph fits into this second category of Disney film. It is definitely funny and entertaining, but it also manages to teach some of life’s little lessons along the way. And what better lesson to teach than that of improvement and change? Even if you’ve spent your whole life as a bad guy, you still have some hero inside of you, and you can do good things. Even if you consider yourself a glitch (weirdo), you know what? You can still do great things. Also, Felix is a goody-goody, but that’s actually presented as a good thing! I like the messages presented in Wreck-It Ralph just as much as I enjoy its entertainment value.
Finally, I can’t mention this film without a quick nod to the animation and artistry. The characters, the environments, the colors, and everything else are just top notch in the worlds of Wreck-It Ralph.
Wreck-It Ralph may not have won the Oscar, but it definitely deserves a medal for its entertainment, creativity, and charm. It’s another great film this decade from Walt Disney Animation.