After several months of monster/horror animated features, it feels down-right refreshing to see a simply funny new “cartoon” from Disney. Wreck-It Ralph (along with the innovative cg/hand drawn hybrid short Paperman) opens today – and just in time.

I dare say, between Tangled and Ralph, the Disney Feature team has found their footing – and personally I was much more satisfied with this high-concept comedy than I was with Pixar’s most-recent original. Could this be the year Disney’s SoCal home-team beats its upstate sibling? Wreck-It Ralph is executed with as much entertainment and humor, visually and verbally – and a healthy dose of “Disney magic” – as one could expect. It has an obvious appeal to adults, and even more so to kids, which bodes well for its box office results.

I’m not the only one to feel this way. A.O. Scott in The New York Times calls Ralph a big “success”, managing “to be touching as well as silly, thrilling and just a bit exhausting”. Betsy Sharky in The Los Angeles Times says, “the movie’s subversive sensibility and old-school/new-school feel are a total kick”.

“Old-school/new-school” might also describe John Kahrs sublime new short Paperman, which is attached to all showings of Wreck-It Ralph. We’ve been anticipating this short for several months and it plays like icing on the cake. A sumptuous boy-meets-girl story told in an exciting new/retro way – crossing my fingers this begins a transition back to the hand drawn craft of animation, in the classic Disney tradition, at the Disney studio.

So, what about you? If you’ve seen Wreck-It Ralph and/or Paperman, let’s have the discussion. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Jerry Beck

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