Disney's Wreck-It Ralph features a villain from an 8-bit video game, trying to escape from his old rut and maybe become a hero — so we've been thinking of it as a sort of Toy Story for video games. But at Thursday's Hall H panel, the panelists, including director Rich Moore, made the case that it's more like a Who Framed Roger Rabbit of the video game generation.
We watched 10 minutes of footage from Ralph, including some great stuff featuring Jane Lynch as a hot action-game heroine, and Sarah Silverman as a girl from a candy-themed dune buggy racing game. And star John C. Reilly charmed the crowd along with Silverman and Moore — winning over lots of people into believing that this will be way more than just another forgettable CG animated adventure. Spoilers ahead...
Some of the footage we saw just expanded on the stuff you've already seen in the movie's trailer. Ralph is in a support group for video-game baddies, along with a Pac-Man Ghost, a zombie and a berserker. But we got to see more of Ralph's actual life, including how he spends his nights living in a garbage dump outside of the town where he wrecks buildings — while the game's hero, Fix-It Felix Jr., stays in the buildings he fixes and gets congratulated by the pixilated citizens. (Oh, and Fix-It Felix has a magic hammer that does all the work for him. And the screen of the video game is visible in the sky of Ralph's world, suspended like a big window.)
When Ralph leaves the support group — after a hilarious affirmation — he walks out of the enclosure where the ghosts come from in Pac-Man. And he steals the cherry from the Pac-Man game, emerging into a kind of central travel hub for video-game characters. There, we glimpse some cameos, including a flying bird from Joust and a poor character from Dig-Dug who's panhandling because his game got shut off. (The classic game cameos are going to be one of the main reasons to watch and rewatch this movie.)
Oh, and we learn, via a safety announcement, that if you die outside your "home" game, you die for good — you can't come back to life unless you're in your own game when you snuff it. (Who wants to bet this will be a major plot point later in the movie?)
We jumped forward to a scene where Fix-It Felix is in the game Hero's Duty, a modern intense first-person shooter in which Jane Lynch plays the badass leader. They all shoot at Fix-It Felix, who falls and gazes up at Jane Lynch's character, marveling at the high-definition of her face.
Later, Ralph winds up in a candy buggy-racing game, Sugar Rush, where someone has stolen a medal that he won in Hero's Duty — he wants his medal back, because it's the only medal he's ever won in three decades of being a video-game character. The "mean girls" in Sugar Rush are bullying Sarah Silverman's character, but Ralph chases them off. Ralph wants his medal back, but Sarah Silverman says he can't get it unless he's got a buggy hidden in his fat folds. Ralph says he won it in a game called Hero's Duty, and Sarah Silverman spends a minute making fun of the idea that there's a game called Hero's Doody. "I bet you really got to watch where you step in a game called Hero's Doody... Why did the hero flush the toilet? Because it was his doody!" Etc.
During the Q&A, we found out that Moore used to work on The Simpsons as well as Futurama — so he has a great pedigree for this sort of film. And apparently it took years to get the permissions to feature all the classic video game characters, and the main hold-out was a certain mustachioed plumber who's not in the film at all.