Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2012. Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures. Story by Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jim Reardon, Screenplay by Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, additional story material by John C. Reilly, Sam J. Levine, Jared Stern. Produced by Clark Spencer. Music by Henry Jackman. Production Design by Mike Gabriel. Film Editing by Tim Mertens. Academy Awards 2012. Golden Globe Awards 2012. Washington Film Critics Awards 2012.
Did you know that the characters in video games get together after work when the arcade closes? It’s kind of like how toys come to life when you’re not playing with them, or cars have a society of their own in a parallel universe that strangely doesn’t have humans to create cars. Pixar has upped the technological effort in their most beautifully animated effort yet, a passably entertaining comedy about a game villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) who is tired of spending day and night destroying a building that the hero (Jack McBrayer) is constantly fixing. His self-esteem is in ruins given how much he is hated by the residents of the luxury complex, but they are so off-puttingly snobby that I can’t see why anyone would want to be good enough for them anyway. He goes in search of his destiny (sort of like a bug wanting to save his ant colony) by participating in other video games, told that if he wins a medal he’ll be in good with his neighbours (which is one of the weakest McGuffin plots Pixar has ever come up with). He quickly wins a prize from the super-modern battle game next door before finding himself in a sugar-themed race car adventure lorded over by an Ed Wynn-esque King Candy; following him into this saccharine land is the tough-as-nails battle commander (Jane Lynch) who has come to clean up a virus, while he makes friends with an adorable little computer glitch (Sarah Silverman) whom he takes under his fatherly wing (sort of like a bedtime monster and a toddler) when she tells him of her dream of entering the game’s race. The conceits are actually quite clever and fun, but the parts don’t fully fit together as a whole and there is very little humour in the affair; it’s as if the formula has been copied to the point where its sharper aspects have faded and all that is left is smug self-satisfaction for its crafty conceits.