I’m not a huge fan of Disney. Even though they are the entertainment juggernaut that will crush all pretenders under their cheerful cartoon heel…I’m not a huge fan of most of their offerings (I am excluding Marvel, LucasFilms in this…for reasons). I’m not a fan of the musicals that are quickly and simply wrapped up in under 90 minutes so as not to strain the little one’s attention span. I also understand that I am far from Disney’s target demographic.
Now, saying this, I said I’m not a huge fan. Yes, I will watch Aladdin for Robin Williams and The Lion King certainly made me respect their story-telling chops even if it’s a re-skinned Hamlet. For the most part, still not a fan.
Now, I love Pixar. Even as much as they skew a little towards the kids, there are some decent storytelling points and they are not afraid to go a tiny bit mature in the story. Sometimes, it’s right out there for everyone to see. I know I wasn’t the only one shrinking into their seats when the main characters in Toy Story 3 were facing the incinerator, and the song “When She Loved Me” still reduces me to tears (admittedly, I was in a very bad place when I experienced that song). Not only are they master story tellers – Brad Bird has a wonderful article about his writing process, and the formula he uses, which I highly recommend – they are technical geniuses. Every film they have made is the gold standard of computer animation. Every film pushes the boundaries a little more.
When I saw that Wreck-It Ralph was coming out, I knew I was going to go see it. It was clearly a Pixar film at first glance. I would brave the children and the screaming to see this.
Then I saw The Castle.
I am not a person to walk out of a movie. Trust me, I have sat through some howlers. I decided that I was going to give this one a chance. After all, I made an investment of time and money…and I had popcorn. So, I settled into my seat.
I was not disappointed. I came for the animation, but I stayed for every gamer in-joke, trope and bit of naughty and/or toilet humor I saw. I was stunned at some of the lines they left in. I found myself chuckling, then asking myself if it was appropriate to laugh at that with children nearby. They were laughing, too – so I relaxed and let myself be entertained.
While the overarching theme of belonging is a very kid-friendly one, there was another theme that stuck with me. It was plainly thrust out there. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed it.
Being glitchy doesn’t have to define you.
Vanellope’s main calling card is her glitchiness. In moments of high emotion, she pixelates and breaks down. Eventually, she learns to control this, and even use it to her advantage. As one of my theatre teachers in high school told me many, many, many years ago: “You’ve got to take that flaw and present it as a strength.” Sure – hack advice to give to teens, but sadly some adults need to be reminded of that every now and then.
It’s OK to glitch. It’s OK to have a bad day. Just don’t let that one thing, that one day, that one weakness define what you are, or how you present yourself.
I encourage any and all stodgy sorts like me to buy Wreck-It Ralph. Thanks to digital services, you wont have to lie and say it’s for the kids or grandkids.
And Aerith lives.