Walt Disney Studios reigned supreme in the animation kingdom for decades until their drift away from solid storytelling coincided with the arrival of a competing studio named Pixar. Since then, Disney has put out plenty of attempts, but very few garnered the kind of attention given to the products of Pixar. Some even concluded that Disney’s days on top were over.
In what perhaps is the biggest surprise of the year, Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” has been released and won the hearts of many. While the gaming environment and occasional homage to long loved video game franchises may have been the bait to bring people into the theaters, it’s actually the heartwarming story that sends everyone home anticipating the sequel.
“Wreck-It Ralph” is a movie about a video game villain (Ralph) whose sole purpose is to destroy an apartment complex. Memories of playing Rampage as a child immediately came to mind as I was watching the introduction. However, Ralph longs to be a hero rather than a villain. So, he decides to set out on a quest to fulfill that desire. Incidentally, in taking this journey he will put the whole arcade (in which his game is placed) in jeopardy.
It’s at this point when “Wreck-It Ralph” takes a delightfully surprising turn. What seemed to be a simple movie about a video game character actually turned out to be a movie that touches on a series of subjects to which most of today’s youth will likely relate. You see, at the core, Ralph is lonely and feels like he’s unwanted, unappreciated and, most devastatingly, unloved. Through the course of his journey, he will run into a series of other video game characters – each with their own personal challenges.
Ultimately, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a tale of people who struggle to accept who they are. Many of us have struggled with this at one time or another. All of us, at some point, fall short of someone else’s standards. That eventually leads to a place where we have to learn why we are here and for whom we are living. A key realization for Ralph (and many of his new friends) is that he was specifically designed to be just what he was. This was best captured in what Ralph’s villain support group taught him by saying, “I’m bad and that’s good; I will never be good, and that’s not bad.” They encouraged each other to learn how to take life “one game at a time.” That’s great advice for anyone.
Aaron Hedges loves movies. He loves talking about them and watching them with friends and he particularly loves watching them with his wife Alicia. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following him on Twitter @fieryshrub.