This time of year is always an interesting one in the motion picture industry. The year is half over, which means that studios will be cramming as many movies into theaters as they can. It’s an effort to part consumers with their hard-earned cash, building up to that most sacred of times..the Holiday Season. Between now and the end of the year, approximately 165 films will debut on the big screen (including many “limited release” and “art house” films). Make no mistake, there are some real heavy-hitters out there: from Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy, to Taken 2, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, there’s literally something for everyone. One studio in particular has this reviewer’s attention this fall, and that’s Walt Disney Pictures. On November 2nd, Disney will release their latest computer-animated effort, Wreck-It Ralph..and my inner child is bouncing off the walls in anticipation.
The basic story line of Wreck-It Ralph is one we’ve seen many times: a guy decides that he’s tired of the job he’s done for years and years, and he wants to change his life. He’s done playing a supporting role in his own existence, and he’s ready to take charge and become a happier person. It’s a life-affirming journey of self-discovery, the kind of film you’d expect to star Tom Hanks (and be directed by Steven Spielberg). So what makes this film so unique? Well, Ralph is the “bad guy” in a “Donkey Kong”-esque video game, and he desperately wants to be a hero for once in his life. So one night, after the arcade closes, Ralph sneaks out of his game to try his hand at a new first-person shooter..and unleashes an enemy that threatens the entire arcade.
Disney is no stranger to films that take place in the “cyber-world”: both Tron(1982) and its sequel, Tron: Legacy (2010), were set almost entirely within the realm of computers and video games. What sets Wreck-It Ralph apart, however, is that the story appears to be aiming for a more personal feel, where the Tron films were aimed squarely at an epic “the whole world lies in the balance” approach. It’s a film that I’m betting will appeal to kids (who have grown up with video games in their living rooms) and adults (who remember a time when arcades were the ONLY places to experience digital gaming). The voice cast, in true Disney fashion, features a wealth of talented actors and comedians, including John C. Reilly (as Ralph), Jane Lynch, Ed O’Neill, Sarah Silverman and Alan Tudyk, to name a few. I’ve been a Disney film enthusiast nearly my entire life, and very rarely have they failed me, so my faith in the studio’s talents has never been stronger. In a film season normally saddled with remakes and sequels, Wreck-It Ralph is looking like a breath of fresh air. I, for one, plan to be there..with a pocket full of quarters.