By now, practically every reliable moviegoing demographic has a relationship of some kind with video gaming. Whether they keep up with the latest, hottest titles and hardware, or whether they reflect fondly on the hours they spent every day after school hunched over a Donkey Kong arcade game, the affection is there. That affection for gaming – both current and nostalgic – is potentially a very lucrative (and fairly under-explored) emotion to exploit, and any studio would be lucky to tap it for what it’s worth.
Disney Animation Studios is clearly gunning for the affection of gamers young and old with their 52nd animated film Wreck-It Ralph, which is about a classic arcade game villain who grows weary of his career as a “bad guy.” The latest trailer, which was released yesterday on Yahoo! Movies, shows the eponymous Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) attending a support group frequented by numerous actual video game villains – baddies like Super Mario Bros.‘ Bowser and Street Fighter’s M. Bison – and ultimately concluding he does not want to be “bad” anymore. Ralph proceeds to abandon his arcade game, much to the chagrin of fellow members of the video game character community, to find greener pastures in other video game worlds, from classic 2-D side-scrollers to Halo-style Shooters.
Watch the trailer embedded below:
Personally, this trailer leaves me slightly ambivalent. I grew up gaming, and it’s admittedly a lot of fun seeing some of my favorite game characters sharing the screen together. What’s more, the voice talent includes actors I admire, from Reilly to Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman and 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer. At the same time, I worry about how much more Wreck-It Ralph will be able to offer, apart from meta-nostalgia. The whole conceit strikes me, superficially at least, as the type of movie that was sold in high-level studio meetings as “Toy Story with Video Games.” It doesn’t help that the animation doesn’t seem entirely polished yet either.
Still, Wreck-It Ralph didn’t exactly need to sell me with its trailer. Disney Animation Studios has had a nice streak of solid films lately, from The Princess and the Frog to Bolt to the best animated film of last year, Winnie the Pooh. Ralph is also directed by TV animation veteran Rich Moore, the man behind some of my all-time favorite episodes of The Simpsons (encouragingly, he did “meta” classics like The Front, A Streetcar Named Marge and Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie). If Brad Bird and Conan O’Brien set any precedent, it’s that stock in former Simpsons staffers and their movie efforts would be well-placed.
What do you think of the trailer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
Wreck-It Ralph comes out on November 2, 2012.