Disney Breaks the Mold with Wreck-It Ralph
When John Lasseter first pitched Rich Moore the concept for a Disney animated movie about an 8-bit video game adventure, the TV refugee from The Simpsons and Futurama took to it instantly. It was different and wide open to subversive possibilities, not the least of which was the notion of a baddie who wants to break free from a successful rut to become a hero. Moore longed to direct a feature but, until Lasseter hired him, he wasn't sure it was ever going to happen.
But little did Moore realize how Wreck-It Ralph would turn the Disney ethos on its head while simultaneously embracing its legacy. At first glance, you'd almost think this was a Pixar movie with its smart and witty premise (video game characters coming to life after dark in an adventurous rite of passage) until digging deeper and discovering the Disney DNA at its core. Wreck-It Ralph is smart and funny: "a mangy dog chasing a cautionary tale."
"I think the Disney movies have taken an interesting direction after coming out of the woods and feeling their way," Moore suggests. "I credit Ed [Catmull] and John [Lasseter] coming in [from Pixar] and slowly riding the path. I think Tangled really laid it right at the feet of the audience, saying: 'This is a studio that you love and remember and we're back making things that are relevant.' I didn't like the fact that Disney was taking a relentless beating from some of the other studios. It basically used what Disney did well to beat them into submission. But it was never a goal of mine to work at the studio. 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."
As part of this ambitious experiment, Moore and the Disney team have crafted a dazzling video game universe with three distinct worlds (the 8-bit Nicelanders of Fix-It Felix Jr., the photo real first-person shooter, Hero's Duty and the Candy Land-inspired Sugar Rush). Plus they've made a smart and heart-warming tale of two social misfits (the hulk-like baddie, Ralph, and the snarky little Vanellope) banding together to reboot their lives and save their universe from a Cy-Bug invasion.