Sometimes I wonder just how much Disney hates Pixar. Think about it. Before Pixar, Disney was fucking it. Sure, sometimes companies would make a cartoon or two, but Disney was king. It didn’t matter what they made, audiences had to eat it up and be grateful.
For most of the nineties, Michael Eisner had the luxury of being like, “Families don’t want to watch a film about a Hunchback?!?! Too bad!!! Make that fucking movie!!!!” Or, “I don’t give a shit if it’s historically accurate and gross, Pocahontas need giant tits AND bang John Smith!!!”
Then Eisner made a misfire, from a corporate standpoint. He hired a tiny little, relatively unknown company named Pixar. And, like all young hungry talented whelps, Pixar changed everything. Suddenly story mattered. Out of the blue, it became cool to please both children and adults. And, more important to investors, Pixar always returned a profit during a time when Disney became fat and lazy.
This miscalculation cost Eisner his job.
And, through the fog, Pixar started a new fad of hip, fun cartoons aimed at everyone. It’s been a good run for Pixar. I honestly love their shit on a completely biased level. They could make a film about a talking piece of shit and I’d probably be like, “Dude, sweet!!!”
Yet, there are signs the company is getting just as fat and lazy as Disney was in its renaissance. Because, frankly, Cars 2 blew fucking chunks and Brave barely lived up to its potential. And, worse yet, Disney’s been in the wings, brandishing its swords, and slowly coming back and making great films. Princess and The Frog stands up to the best of all Disney films. Tangled was a little uneven but still managed to be awesome. And, bringing us up to the present, is Wreck-It Ralph, which proves that this company is ready to fight for its crown.
Wreck-It Ralph takes place inside an arcade machine where, much like toys in Toy Story, the video game characters come to life and hang out when players aren’t looking. Our hero? Actually isn’t much of a hero. In fact, Ralph has been programed to be a villain in a Donkey Kong style game from decades ago. In that time Ralph has grown tired of being the baddie. He wants to bang chicks and get cake, like a hero. So he goes on a quest inside multiple games in hopes to bang chicks and get cake.
It doesn’t take a genius nerd to see Disney stole a couple of pages from Pixar’s playbook. There’s a lot of background gags, inside jokes, and just a simple focus on character. Yet, there’s a decidedly Disney approach to the film too, as most of the characters honestly aren’t as edgy as most Pixar characters are. It’s a good blend that works.
Now, things aren’t perfect. The film starts amazingly, flying out the gate with numerous jokes and deflt laying out the rules of the arcade world. But things kind of level off in the second act and, for the middle of the film, characters are just kind of spinning wheels until something awesome happens.
Which brings us to the finale, this film really cares about the third act. I harp on this constantly but it’s the truth: the third act IS the film. You can have the world’s greatest first or second act but it doesn’t fucking matter if everything falls apart at the end. Ralph is almost pathologically obsessed with the third act. It’s a pleasant surprise after a tepid middle half. I was almost ready to write off Ralph then, BAM, totally fucking sweet ending that legitimately felt earned.
I imagine Pixar’s very own John Lasseter had a huge hand in this film’s ending. Hell, he’s pretty much responsible for shaping up the House of Mouse. I don’t care who is in charge as long as they keep making rad films. Wreck-It Ralph is good enough to be Pixar. But proudly bares the Disney name. Like I said, there’s fuel left in this company’s tank yet and I can’t wait to see them work it out.