Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Family Fare

As I sat and watched these two disparate souls, separated by so much, but drawn together by fate and circumstance, I couldn't help but reflect on my movie-going habits. The couple cavorted across fantastic landscapes, encountering all manner of bizarre creatures and completing one harrowing escape after another. While I stared up at the screen I thought about the human condition, which seemed a little odd, since I was watching "Wreck-It-Ralph," not "Cloud Atlas." I would have expected to have all manner of profound insights while watching the expansive tale from the makers of the Matrix trilogy and "Run Lola Run." I didn't expect to think too hard while watching a Disney movie set inside a video game.
And yet, that's where I found myself this past weekend. I sat with my wife, my teenage son and his friend, soaking up each brightly lit frame of the story of a misunderstood giant who just wants to fit into the blocky, sixteen-bit world of his game, "Fix-It Felix." Ralph wants to be a hero, not a bad guy. This is pretty elemental stuff, but once he goes wandering inside a universe that doesn't give much room for this kind of change. When he finds a little glitch in another game, who helps him become more of what he wants to be, the story takes off. It's a fairy tale and a meditation on contemporary society. "When did video games get so violent?" wonders Ralph, who had previously spent his time breaking windows and crushing buildings.
When did family movies become so entertaining? Maybe it was back when my son was born, or just before. When "Toy Story" first came out, it became safe, even a little bit hip, to a watch kids' movie. You can see John Lasseter's fingerprints all over "Wreck-It-Ralph." He's the guy sitting in the control booth at Disney. He is the man behind the curtain, which is interesting since the other upcoming movie that caught my eye showed up in the previews before Ralph: "Oz, The Great And Powerful." It comes to us from the director of "The Evil Dead" and the Spider Man trilogy, Sam Raimi. Produced by John Lasseter's magic movie making machine, Disney Studios.
I have drunk the Kool-Aid, and I look forward to the Marvel/Disney/Pixar/Lucasfilm production that tells the origin story of that big red pitcher with legs.

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