Thursday, November 8, 2012

Disney and Pixar loop de loop

Last weekend, I got to see Disney's latest effort, the nostalgic video game movie Wreck it Ralph.  Initially, I wasn't too keen on it upon first hearing about it.  It sounded like too much of a "boys" movie with a story about video game characters.  I've never been much of a gamer.  Then I saw the trailer....holy cow, is that Bowser and a Pac-Man ghost in the same room?!  And ooh....cute little girl character alert- maybe I will like this movie.  After all, I was part of that 80s game generation even if I was never very good at them.  My cousin had Pac-Man on her computer, and I was once very addicted to Donkey Kong, the game that inspired the film's Fix it Felix.  While my sister took a karate class at the JCC, I would hang out in the teen lounge where they had a bunch of arcade games set on freeplay, and I gravitated to Donkey Kong again and again.  The iconic sound effects of that game send me back every time.

I'm not going to do a full on movie review, but I will tell you this much- I may be very biased towards fairytale musicals with princess characters when it comes to animated films, but I had a big grin on my face throughout the entire movie.  The references and puns and unexpected "did they really just say that?" laughs didn't end.  My reaction to this movie reminded me quite a bit of seeing another movie with a packed, thoroughly entertained audience back in college- Pixar's Monster's Inc, and it's due to a similar dynamic: a hulking, can be scary but is really a sweet lug character befriending a precocious little girl.  Monsters had Boo- a 2 year old who doesn't talk a whole lot but really makes the film with her antics.  Age Boo several years and give her an attitude, and you have Vanellope von Schweetz- Wreck it Ralph's 9 year old sassy racer.  It's no surprise that I have absolutely fallen for this little livewire too just as I fell for Boo- I adore precocious little girl characters.  I almost immediately rushed out to the Disney Store for my own Vanellope.
(How are my future children going to react to a mom who has all these toys??)

I've already decided that I will be creating my own Vanellope costume in the future.  All I'd need are a mint green hoodie with pink ties, a pleated brown skirt, swirled stockings, black boots, and candy shaped barrettes. 

What really struck me about this film was that Disney Studios had created a movie that felt like a Pixar movie.  I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't!

Meanwhile, over the summer, Pixar created a film- Brave- that felt more like a traditional Disney story!  With John Lasseter now in charge of Disney animation, everything is coming full circle.  I did enjoy Brave a lot.  The story was on a much smaller scale that what I expected, but I've always been a sucker for magical transformation stories.  And I must say, the beautiful artwork of Brave makes a great advertisement for visiting Scotland.  If it wasn't high on my travel list before, it sure is now!

As for which film I liked better, it's really hard to say- they are so completely different.  I love the fairy tale quality of Brave, but I think I smiled and laughed more during Wreck it Ralph.  I will definitely be getting my picture with both sets of characters at Disneyland next week.  Whichever the preference, can we all agree that it is so wonderful to see Disney making really great movies again after the long lull they had once the spark of the Disney renaissance of the early 90s dimmed?

A little sidenote- Wreck it Ralph opened with a wonderful cartoon short called "Paperman" that had a nostalgic feel too it.  It too felt very Pixar in it's storytelling with it's lack of any dialogue- all the emotion played by the artwork and the music.  I actually hadn't heard there was going to be a short, so it was a pleasant surprise.

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