I revel in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph in my latest TOH/Indiewire column, interviewing director Rich Moore about departing from the studio norm while still embracing the legacy. It’s a brilliant balancing act.
Disney’s definitely back with Wreck-It Ralph (opening Nov. 2). In fact, this unexpectedly witty and inventive videogame comedy/adventure is the surprise of the animation season and the Oscar wild card, although I haven’t yet seen DreamWorks’ Rise of the Guardians, which also looks creatively bold and will likely be a major contender.
Yet there’s something wonderfully subversive about Wreck-It Ralph that turns the Disney ethos on its head while at the same time embracing the legacy. Credit John Lasseter for trying such an ambitious experiment and for entrusting Rich Moore, a TV refugee from The Simpsons and fellow CalArts alum, to pull it off. The result is similar to what Brad Bird did at Pixar with The Incredibles and just as personal. How to break free from a successful rut?
“I’ll be frank: In the ’90s, the movies they were making were not my cup of tea. But as an outsider who was able to see Disney [trying to recover], I liked how they were the underdog with something to prove. They were small and scrappy and wanted to do good. And Disney is in that place right now.”