By In Stuff

Wreck-It Ralph Was Better Than Brave

I am a recovered Oscarholic. For years and years, I used to obsess over the Academy Awards. I memorized every winner of the three major categories — picture, actress and actor — and I knew most of the supporting actor and director and writers too.* I saw every single Oscar-winning movie between Casablanca (1944) and Chicago (2003). Leading into the Oscars, every year, I would be sure to see every nominated movie (back when there were five) and most of the nominated performances.

*I’ve lost much of this knowledge, fortunately, but even now I find that if someone brings up an actor’s name, say Jack Lemmon, my mind will immediately think: “Save The Tiger, 1974” — his only Best Actor victory. Then I will also remember that he won a supporting actor award for Mister Roberts in, I think, 1956 (yep). And then I will think about his performance in Glengarry Glen Ross, which had Al Pacino (Best Actor for “Scent of Woman”) and Kevin Spacey (Best Actor for “American Beauty” and best supporting for “Usual Suspects”) and Ed Harris (no Oscars, but should have won for “Truman Show” in 1999 over James Coburn) and Alan Arkin (who I know won more recently for “Little Miss Sunshine,” but I don’t remember the year). In other words, I can’t get quite get it out of my head.

Why was I so into the Oscars? It’s a family thing, I suppose. When I was growing up, I had pretty distinct relationships with my father and mother. With my Dad, it was sports. With my Mom, it was movies. As a result, I could get pretty obsessive about both sport and movies. I’ve written before how Oscar Night at our house is a national holiday — bigger than just about any other holiday — going back decades we would have our Oscar pools (I think we had them long before they became popular) and we would have special snacks and the kids were allowed to stay up late. We would sit around the television, critique every part of the show, mock Oscar winners’ interminable thank you speeches and gripe about the winners. These nights highlighted my childhood.

I’m pretty sure things began to change for me right when the third Lord of The Rings won best picture (2004). I never saw the third Lord of the Rings. I almost certainly never will, unless I lose a bet or something. I’m sure it’s amazing and brilliant and breathtaking, but I tried to watch the first Lord of the Rings and got lost five minutes in and never caught up at all. My feeling is, if you fail Spanish I, there’s really no point is taking Spanish III.

It wasn’t just the Lord of the Rings. We also have two young daughters, which means we see a lot of animated movies (more on this in a minute) and just twice a year my wife Margo and I will go to a real movie. This year, our real movies were Lincoln and Wedding Crashers. No, wait, Wedding Crashers was a while ago, wasn’t it? OK, fine, maybe we just go out to see one real movie a year, this time it was Lincoln.

And, beyond family and Lord of the Rings, I have to admit: I changed. Movies stopped meaning as much to me. It would be easy to say that it is because movies changed, but I know the truth is I changed. I used to feel this compulsion to see every “good” movie — I wanted to be challenged by movies, I wanted to be threatened by movies, I was willing to endure deep depression or heavy disappointment for the sake of seeing great movies. I was even willing to sit through “The English Patient.”

Now? Well, now I have a new outlook — I call it my “Hotel Rwanda” outlook. We bought the DVD for Hotel Rwanda several years ago and said we would watch it some night when the mood was right. We have not seen it yet. Who am I kidding? We will never see it. My mood is NEVER right to watch Hotel Rwanda. I know it’s a great movie. I know Don Cheadle is great in it — and Don Cheadle is one of my favorite actors. I know it’s intense and important and ultimately moving. And when a free night comes up, I see Hotel Rwanda on the shelf and say, “That’s a really good movie, we should watch it, but you know, I’m just not in the mood to see that tonight. Let’s watch Date Night.”

I’m not proud of this shift. But — as Bengals owner Mike Brown once said when a negotiation went awry — “it’s unfortunate but it’s the fact.” I think I care less about the Oscars because I care less about movies. Maybe it will come around again, I don’t know. This year, for the first time in my life, I was traveling on Academy Awards night and so did not watch a single moment of the Oscars. I saw only two of the nominated movies, a career low. I spent no more than five minutes researching the Oscars before turning in my picks for the family pool.

And; wouldn’t you know it? I got 19 of 24 categories right. That might have been a career best for me. But here was the thing: I lost to my mother, who got 20 out of 24 right. You know WHY she got 20 out of 24 right?

Mom picked Brave to win best animated movie. I picked Wreck-It Ralph. And Brave won.

And Wreck-Ir Ralph should have won. I may not see real movies often anymore. I may be the last one to see the biggest movies (note to self: See Avatar). But I sit through pretty much EVERY animated movie at least once, usually two or three times. I’ve seen Brave twice and Wreck-It Ralph three times.

And Wreck-It Ralph is better. I’m not saying I think it’s better the way I think Peanut M&Ms are better than regular M&Ms. I’m saying it’s better the way Lou Gehrig’s .340 lifetime batting average is better than Tony Gwynn’s lifetime .338 batting average. It’s just BETTER. I mean no offense to the geniuses at Pixar, who make amazing movies, I’m just saying that Wreck-It Ralph was funnier, smarter, more touching and it had a better story. I’m saying our girls liked it a lot more than Brave. I’m saying we adults liked it a lot more than Brave. I’m saying it’s a better movie on every single level. Brave was fine. Wreck-It Ralph was better.

I’m definitely not saying this because if Wreck-It Ralph would have won, I would have won the family Oscar pool.

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37 Responses to Wreck-It Ralph Was Better Than Brave

  1. Scott says:

    You are right, Wreck it Ralph really was funnier, smarter, more touching and had a better story.

    • Magdalen says:

      i think that u people are right, wreck it ralph is better than brave, although i really wanted to see wreck it ralph really bad in the cinemas, their videos put me off for a while,

  2. Joe says:

    Our relationship w/movies (it was our stand by date night) changed when we became parents. I saw none of the nominated movies this year (or last year, or the year before) and really had no desire to see them. We did see Brave as a family and my Mom took our son to see Wreck It Ralph. Brave: three thumbs down; stupid story. Wreck It Ralph: one enthusiastic thumbs up (Mom is not really a fan of animated movies so she doesn’t vote). I’m looking forward to seeing Ralph. Although I’m not looking forward to seeing it probably half a dozen times…
    Dark Side of the Mood

  3. Flax says:

    I didn’t see Brave, but I LOVED Wreck-It Ralph. Especially considering that Brave got kind of middling reviews by Pixar standards, I doubt there’s any chance I would like it more.

    And I would say that you don’t have to bother with Avatar. That’s a theater movie – all it really has going for it are the visuals, and if you’re not seeing them in a theater there’s no point. Maybe if you have an amazing home theater setup and a Blu-Ray player. Otherwise you may as well pass.

  4. Cliff Blau says:

    Lou Gehrig’s career batting average wasn’t better than Tony Gwynn’s. Gwynn’s career batting average was .076 higher than the league average, while Gehrig’s was .054 higher than the league average. So once you consider the context, without which baseball statistics are meaningless, you see Gwynn’s was better.

    • Pugs Sprout says:

      If you want to start adding context, look at slugging and see how much more valuable the Iron Horse’s hits were. Or don’t… feed the trolls

    • Pugs Sprout says:

      If you want to start adding context, look at slugging and see how much more valuable the Iron Horse’s hits were. Or don’t… feed the trolls

    • Yeah, I think Pugs is right. .338 and .340 are fundamentally the same. Gehrig’s was better because it was comprised of more extra base hits.

    • Bill says:

      I’m with Cliff, unless you want to argue pitching was better and the overall quality of offensive player was better in Gehrig’s day. Gwynn’s lifetime BA is more impressive than Gehrig’s.

      Regardless, If Joe P. is arguing that in this case, the actual number makes the difference, it’s tough to see how that applies to the two movies.

    • KHAZAD says:

      Cliff, Joes point is that Gehrig was more valuable because of the nature of those hits (extra base hits) and having twice as many walks. The batting average number does not tell the story.

      In 2012, Giancarlo Stanton hit .290, and Ruben Tejada hit .289. Obviously, though, Stanton is the better hitter, and it’s not close. A more extreme example, but the same point.

    • John Gale says:

      Lou Gehrig career OPS+: 179. Tony Gwynn: 132. Not close.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Guys…. it was a throw away line just to say that one was factually better than another, just like the movies. It wasn’t opinion, just pure fact. Joe wasn’t debating that Tony Gwynn was better than Lou Gehrig. That’s a ridiculous premise and not what was intended.

    • Scott says:

      Gotta love that this debate breaks out here. This exchange pretty much defines this blog.

  5. Frances says:

    You forget that voting in Oscar pool should reflect Academy members choices and not yours.
    You griping about it is just sour grapes..

  6. 陳朗 says:

    I totally agree. Brave was entertaining and beautifully animated, but it was very unoriginal and fairly cliched. Plus it’s not close to being among Pixar’s best works.

    On the other hand, Wreck-It Ralph was bold, inventive, and far more funny and touching than Brave. Plus it’s the best thing Disney’s done since pretty much The Lion King.

    However, much of Wreck-It Ralph was centered around video games, which is way over the head of the majority of the Oscar voting body (most of them being white men over the age of 60). And they voted Paperman Best Animated Short, and they were sure as heck not going to give both animation categories to Walt Disney Animation Studios (which also most likely doomed Frankenweenie).

    So as a result you’ve got Pixar winning for the seventh time in ten years for what is to them an average film over a superior film that is the best thing Disney’s made in almost 20 years. Right…worst win of the night!

    • frightwig says:

      Disney’s best film since The Lion King remains Lilo & Stitch. But I also liked Ralph, probably more than Brave. My 6 year-old Katie won’t choose a favorite.

      I guess Brave won because it’s Pixar. All but 2 Pixar films have won Best Animated Feature since the Academy created the award in 2002. Monsters, Inc. lost to Shrek, and Cars inexplicably lost to Happy Feet (maybe Hollywood liked the environmental theme better than the Cars themes?). But if Pixar has a feature out that year, it tends to win the Oscar.

    • John Gale says:

      I think Wreck-It-Ralph is Disney’s best movie since Mulan, the last of the great traditionally animated Disney movies (though I did like The Princess and the Frog quite a bit).

      At any rate, Joe is right on the money. In my family, one of my sisters prefers Brave, mostly because the animation was better (I’ll concede this point). All seven members of the rest of my family (including my parents, who couldn’t care less about video games) think that Wreck-It-Ralph is clearly superior in all the ways (plot, character development, humor) that truly matter. This is the biggest travesty in the history of the animated category, supplanting Shrek over Monsters Inc.

  7. Dan Holden says:

    Frankenweenie and ParaNorman were both better.

  8. Joe: I haven’t seen Wreck-it-Ralph, but plain M&Ms are better than peanut M&Ms. Plain M&Ms have accumulated 69.7 lifetime WAR with a peak of 34.3, compared to 53.7/29.8 for peanut M&Ms. Clearly no comparison.

  9. EdB says:

    Plain M&Ms have had a much longer career, too, with a far longer peak. The candy started in the war years (1941 to be exact), but performed even better against strong post-war competition,and the advent of integration and night games only made it stronger, not weaker.

    Yeah, Peanut M&Ms are fine, but a true arriviste compared to the original M&Ms — a first-ballot candy HOFer.

  10. DJ says:

    Nuts, granola and fruit don’t belong in chocolate. They are in a separate category of chocolate covered “whatever”. It’s like they’re on PEDs or something.

  11. Avatar is one of the worst (if not the worst) movie I have ever seen. It is a ripoff of loads of films, is too long, and boring. It is a crime against humanity. James Cameron should be brought before the war crimes tribunal in The Hague for stealing 3 hours of my life. Yes, it’s “visually stunning,” to quote one of my friends. However, that gets you through about 5 minutes. After that it is a truly horrible movie. Worst of all, it is purported to be good, which is why it is in the running as worst movie of all time, and, yes, I have seen Plan 9 from Outer Space and Showgirls.

  12. Your shelfing Hotel Rwanda is a perfect reflection of the movie’s primary message, Nick Nolte talking to Don Cheadle:

    “Paul Rusesabagina: I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.
    Jack: Yeah and if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show?
    Paul Rusesabagina: How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?
    Jack: I think if people see this footage they’ll say, “oh my God that’s horrible,” and then go on eating their dinners.
    Jack: What the hell do I know? “

  13. ceolaf says:

    Wreck-It Ralph is NOT a great movie.

    1) We view all animated movies through the lens of our knowledge of earlier films.

    2) All animated movies are post-Fantasia. Post-Snow White. And now, post-Toy Story.

    3) Yes. Toy Story. Take a conceit — particularly one tied to the childhood of today’s parents — and tell a compelling story that stays true to that conceit AND contains a good story for kids. (And animate it interestingly.)

    4) Wreck-It Ralph particularly ties into that that Toy Story heritage. It brings in characters from video games of our youth as Toy Story did with the physical toys.

    5) The Wreck-It Ralph story is does not actually follow from the conceit of the movie. Rather, it is a fairly well worn story told in the context of old video games. But they are not really old video games. That’s not Donkey Kong made into an interesting character. That’s someone else made into a character. That’s not Mario made into an interesting chacter. In fact, not of characters who are important to the plot are real video game characters. (In contast, look at what the green army men do in Toy Story.)

    6) Wreck-It Ralph is not interesting or beautfiully animated. The animation is fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. But it’s not a real strength of the movie.

    7) What does that leave us with? The story is not unique. It does not flow from the conceit. It’s just a kids movie with a fairly cliche story told in this context. But there’s nothing brilliant or novel about the execution.

    8) Wreck It Ralph is a happier story. It is less dark. The outcome is less in doubt, and how we get to that outcome is far less surprising. It is less original and there is less dramatic tension. It is cuter, brighter, happier and far far far more joyful.

    Does that make it a better than Brave? Well, that might make it better for small children. That might make it better for medium-sized children. And it might make it better for large children.

    But I do not think that it makes it a better animated movie. It might make it a better children’s movie.

    But the category is “Amimated Film,” not “Children’s Film.”

    • John Gale says:

      Nice try, but Joe is right. Wreck-It-Ralph is better than Brave. It just is. I’m bored, so I’ll go point by point.

      1. Ok, that’s probably true, though that applies to everything, not just animated films. And it has nothing to do with the debate.

      2. See above, though you forgot The Little Mermaid in your list (the first great movie of the new animated era).

      3. So you’re saying Toy Story is a great movie. No arguments. Again, I fail to see what that has to do with anything.

      4. This is true, and it’s one of the reasons why both Toy Story and Wreck-It-Ralph are really good movies. One thing you’re sort of missing is that a person doesn’t have to care about toys to enjoy Toy Story or video games to enjoy Wreck-It-Ralph. If you think the movie is about video games, you missed the point.

      5. Again, Wreck-It-Ralph is not about video games (oh, and by the way, Toy Story is *not* about toys–it wouldn’t be great if it was). It just happens to be set within an arcade. If you were expecting Mario to be the main character, you missed the point. And arguing that Toy Story is better (probably true) is not relevant to the discussion. Brave wasn’t, and that’s what matters.

      6. I will concede that Brave is a better animated movie than Wreck-It-Ralph. Brave really is very beautiful to look at. That’s the only area it is superior in, though.

      7. The story may be somewhat derivative of Toy Story, but the setting is actually unique. Name another movie made up of video game characters (I’m not talking about terrible adaptations of video games–a movie in which the characters are actually living inside video games). And whether or not the story is cliche is not really relevant. Most successful movies are cliched to some degree or another. If they’re well-written (as Wreck-It-Ralph was), it doesn’t matter. Besides, it’s not like Brave wasn’t built on cliches (badass young female lead, dispute about dating/marriage with parent, ancient curses, etc, etc, etc).

      8. Was the outcome of Brave ever in doubt? Not that I particularly cared anymore at that point, since the middle of that movie was a complete mess, but I had zero doubt about what would happen. I didn’t think Ralph was going to die or anything (there are limits on what can happen in a kids’ movie), but that movie was much less predictable in how exactly he would prevail. Brave really telegraphed the tapestry bit. The only thing unpredictable about that movie was the bear plot, and in this case, that is not a good thing because that was stupid.

      I find your last comment funny because other than one of my sisters (the other seven members of my immediate family all think Wreck-It-Ralph was better), I haven’t met anyone over the age of 10 who actually thought Brave was a better movie. I think Brave might be better suited to children (who can be distracted by stupid sequences of bears trying to catch fish) than adults. Wreck-It-Ralph is suited well to all ages.

      Wreck-It-Ralph has a much better plot (Brave started strong, but it devolved into a hot mess with that absolutely ridiculous, boring and stupid bear plot). It is much funnier and more emotionally moving. It is *much* better constructed and its twists are better and less predictable. It has much better-written, believable, sympathetic and likeable characters. It has a better villain. It has higher stakes.

      In contrast, Brave is better animated. That’s it. It has a serious argument as the worst Pixar movie ever. This is not even remotely close. Wreck-It-Ralph is better.

  14. Dave Hanson says:

    Wreck-It Ralph was such a terrific movie – I found myself smiling so often thinking back to the video games I played from before I was 10 all the way into my 20’s. Even the “Sugar Rush” theme music was spot-on. Brave, on the other hand, was the weakest Pixar movie since A Bug’s Life. Girl with a bow-and-arrow with yet another Billy Connelly stock Scottish character – boredom!

  15. Theo says:

    I just want to say that I absolutely love that you wrote this, and I couldn’t agree more. Brave was a nice movie, although far from Pixar’s peak of Wall-E/Toy Story 3/Incredibles/etc. I have a hard time thinking of the last time I left of movie feeling as impressed and overjoyed as I did with Wreck-It Ralph. I thought maybe it played into my demographic too much, but now I’m glad to know I’m not the only one thinking this.

  16. Joe, the theatrical release of “Fellowship of the Ring” is difficult to follow in the beginning – they cut out too much. I, too, tried watching the theatrical version and didn’t care for it. Then a friend lent me their extended version and it all made sense and loved it. I think “Fellowship of the Ring” is a very, very good movie; “The Two Towers” is excellent and the third, “Return of the King” was just ok as they changed the look and tone too much for my taste – but it won a bunch of Oscars, of course. Anyway, try the extended version of “Fellowship of the Ring” and you may really like it.

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  19. dave says:

    Agreed, Wreck it Ralph was amazing and Brave was nothing compared to it.
    Wreck it Ralph is now my favourite movie. It’s literally the best animated film I’ve ever seen, and I prefer it over

    I don’t really get it. The animation was so amazing, the audio was perfect, the story was fantastic. Brave was just weird and cliche… I love how they had cameos from real games in Wreck it Ralph. That’s so fresh!

  20. blogger316 says:

    I believe that this comment thread has a case of confirmation bias, so I’ll provide the counterpoint. This post and comments motivated me to get Wreck It Ralph and watch it with my 4 year old daughter. We mutually decided to turn it off 20 minutes in to watch Monsters, Inc. instead. If Wreck It Ralph was a real movie with live actors, I would have said it was terribly acted and poorly written to begin with. And, I say all this despite the fact that I am the target demographic for Wreck It Ralph. The nostalgia just got no traction with me. So, I’ve seen 20 minutes of this movie and I despised it. I am willing to try again if I am reliably informed that it gets better. But to be better than Brave (and I agree with the comments – cliched, poorly paced, etc…), Wreck It Ralph would have to turn into Casablanca.

  21. Michael Polo says:

    I definitely preferred Wreck-it Ralph to Brave. Agreed with much of what was said earlier on, but I had to say the voice talent was pretty much perfect, and the rougher edges on the animation worked well with the nostalgic theme, especially in the candy-themed game.

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  23. C Merry says:

    I agree! I even dressed my wheelchair dog up as Wreck It Ralph and Sugar Rush 🙂 Happy Halloween! 🙂

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