Wreck-It Ralph is a new Disney Classic!

Theatrical release poster depicting the protagonist, Ralph, along with various video game characters

You know how I go on about lack of original ideas?  Well…Wreck-It Ralph is proof that it still exists.  It is one of the most clever, original stories I’ve ever seen.  It may have familiar themes, but in execution it is all creative and awesome! 😀  I loved it.

Before I jump into Ralph, I must begin with the animated short that runs in front of the featured attraction…Paperman.  It is truly a beautiful mixture of hand drawn and CG images and 100% brilliant.  Do not be late–it is worth the extra minutes.

Okay.  Animation is powerful.  You can use it to tell stories that would be impossible to tell in live action and it also ups the ante on possibilities.  W-IR takes full advantage of this and creates a world that only animation could capture–the video game world. It is rich and full of tiny details that only helps to sell the entire universe.  (Side note: Children will love the colorful images and understand the narrative, but adults will relish every game reference and classic character cameo, too.)

Writers Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston (with story help from John C. Reilly) focus on classic themes of loneliness, isolation, rejection and self-image but they wrap it in a unique package–a 10 foot tall 64-bit video game villain, with “freakishly big hands” and an annoying little girl with candy stuck in her hair.  Director Rich Moore makes all the right choices.  The pace is quick and tight (never a dull moment) and he cleverly allows Ralph to evolve organically, while staying true to his nature.

The voice cast is perfect.  John C. Reilly is Ralph.  His intonations and inflections just fit.  Sarah Silverman (who I usually do not care for) is wonderful as Vanellope.  Jane Lynch hits it out of the park and Jack McBrayer‘s typical one-note character (sorry…but he is) actually works here.

What elevates Wreck-It Ralph from the standard kids movie is its attention to more than just funny gags and clever cameos.  It tells a real human story.  A story about what it is like to be without a home and trying to identify who you are.  There were a few moments that choked me up a bit and others that had me laughing out loud. The social media keeps saying that Disney has finally put out a Pixar quality film and I may have to agree with them.

Wreck-It Ralph will stick with you–for all the right, wonderful reasons!  And yeah…I am going to see it again!

Wreck-It Ralph Trailer

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Flight could have been a truly great film, if only…

It started strong.  The first hour of Flight is captivating, tense and thought-provoking.  Denzel Washington is in top form and the flight sequences are nail-bitingly good.  Unfortunately, the film never seems to find the “story” it wants to tell.  It is nice to see Director Robert Zemeckis back in live-action and he still has some serious skills creating human drama, but I was never totally invested in this one as I was with some of his other films which I love–like Cast Away and Contact.

There were several narrative options it could have taken: A straight-up drama about airline politics (especially after a crash)–a truthful look into an alcoholic’s struggle with sobriety–a character study that explored the dichotomy of our society’s definitions of hero and villain or even a love story of two broken souls seeking a bit of solace.  Any of those would have interested me and with each possible idea I would get excited…but, none of those paths were taken.  Instead, we get an uneven, over-long spiral into self-destruction that never quite gripped me–emotionally or intellectually.  You are left with a series of dramatic moments that are never earned, therefore you are not impacted by them.

The performances are the reason to go see this.  Washington is easily one of our finest actors and this is a meaty role for him (I am sure there will be some Oscar buzz).  John Goodman is a much-needed breath of fresh (comical) air, anytime he is on-screen.   Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood are solid, as always.  The knock out performance though, belongs to Kelly Reilly, as an unexpected love interest.  She is vulnerable and broken and yet, strong and full of hope.  I am looking forward to see Ms. Reilly in more.

Overall, I can say Flight is a bad film…it has enough to be okay–but it could have been more.  If only…