Take a Lesson from Wreck-It Ralph

Kids these days. Too much candy and video games if you ask me. Pffff. Leave it to Disney to take these tooth-rotting, brain-dumbening vices and smoosh them together into a sugary sweet, hour and a half long action figure commercial called Wreck-It Ralph. That's all we need. Go to the library, ya crazy kids!

Okay, yes, I have a 5 and 7 year old. And yes, we take them to a movie now and then. It can't be picture books and apple slices ALL the time, right? I've seen enough animated features in my lifetime to know the good from the bad. So if you haven't seen this one, lemme tell ya: It's good on many, ahem... levels.

Wreck-It Ralph has plenty of eye candy for the kids. The animation alone is astounding. Frankly, I think people take for granted nowadays how incredibly vast and ultra-detailed worlds can be created with computers. We've just come to expect it. We've also come to expect that the stories and plots of these movies will generally disappoint. But given the brains behind this flick (namely Pixar's John Lasseter and Simpsons/Futurama whiz-bang Rich Moore) I should have known Ralph would be different.

As children's book writers, we pore over each other's work--both published and unpublished--rooting out those precious elements that make for great reading: clever plot twists, subtle hints leading to satisfying surprises, rich characters with unique views of the world, and dramatic conflicts that demand a quick page turn. Wreck-It Ralph achieves all that and more. It's an eye-popping case study in smart, witty storytelling with tricky little secrets and palatable lessons in friendship and self discovery.

Now, seeing Wreck-It Ralph ain't gonna make the young ones any smarter. But if you're a children's writer, you'll leave the cineplex with plenty of food for thought. That's all we need. Go to the movies, ya crazy kids!