Saturday, November 10, 2012

Watch This Movie: Wreck-It Ralph

Rating: WATCH IT!

Do you remember watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Maybe, maybe not, depending on how old you are, or whether or not your parents' crippling nostalgia forced you to endure an era of cartoons you were never born into. Either way, one of the most amazing elements of that movie was seeing characters like Bugs Bunny and Micky Mouse sharing screen time with one another. You have to understand, this was like seeing Cain and Abel buddying it up at the bar after Cain had just tried to murder him. You know what, at one point in the movie, Donald Duck and Daffy Duck actually do try to murder each other, in what can only be described as the worst incident of Dueling Pianos to have ever gone awry. What I'm trying to say is, these guys were never supposed to share screen time, yet here they were. Wreck-It Ralph does the same thing for video game characters, and it can get hilarious.

An AA meeting for Bad Guys.
You see, Ralph is a bad guy from a game named Fix-It Felix. The problem is, after 30 years of being the bad guy, he's tired of Felix getting all the glory while he gets left out. He doesn't even want to be the good guy. As he says to a Bad Guy support group, he'd probably be okay with being the bad guy if, after the arcade closed, people at least treated him nicely. Unfortunately, Ralph's got hands the size of Don King's hair and feet so big that a dance with him would end in tragic horror. So, even when he's just trying to be nice, he does occasionally end up breaking a few things. Or a few rooms.

Yet a heart of cold still beats in that freakishly large chest.

Turns out that heroes win medals, and bad guys don't, so if he can get his hands on a medal, maybe he'll be accepted by those around him. So he sets off in search of one. This search will take him out of his game world and into at least two others. He'll also cross through a sort of hub world where game characters jump games all the time in order to visit one another. The problem is, if you die outside your game, you die for good, so there's a real risk to the journey. But Ralph is determined, and along the way he meets two other video game heroes that become allies of sorts for him.

A greater case of schizophrenia has never been witnessed.
Let's get something straight: Jane Lynch has some of the best one liners I've heard since Arnold decided to retire from his Terminator gig. Playing a tough as nuts military commander named Tamora Calhoun in a first person game called Hero's Duty, she plays host for Ralph's first foray into the gaming world. On the other hand, you've got Sarah Silverman playing the sometimes-too-adorable Vanellope Von Schweetz, a racing character from a Mario Kart styled game named Sugar Rush. Maybe Vanellope was supposed to be the light hearted entertainment, but Tamora steals every scene she's in. Every. Damn. One. She's a gun at the local bully yard when everyone else is trying to give noogies. She actually does have her own sentimental story going on with Fix-It Felix, who goes after Ralph, but the heart of the story is Ralph's relationship with Vanellope.
One that occasionally strays into the touchy ground of pedophilia.
I wasn't sure if the character of Vanellope was supposed to be a little girl, or just somewhat like that since her program is supposed to be so adorable, but I think half of my inability to see her as having adult features stems from the fact that she's so obviously played by Sarah Silverman. The truth is, though, that the relationship is sweet, and the two do learn from each other over the course of the movie. Don't get me wrong, the movie falters the most in her game world, which comes off too adorable and cuddly for its own good.
Seriously, how long could you tolerate this level of cute?
Still, it may be the movie's weakest game world, but it's also the place where the bulk of the plot and relationships unfold. Once you get past that cutesy exterior, the heart of the story really comes through. The characters are genuine even while being parodies of existing game tropes, and there's an interesting twist toward the end that adds just the right amount of tension to the movie. I should add that the soundtrack is pretty good, too. Composed by Henry Jackman, it slides between traditional orchestra, sometimes accompanied with synthesizers, to full on 1980s video game sounding music. It's done really well, and there's some touching music to accompany what's unfolding on screen. I guarantee you, if you grew up in the 80s, you'll hear a few compositions that stir up that old feeling of hearing synthesizers on a movie.
Jane Lynch had better demand her own franchise after this.
Go see this! It's a great movie. It's great for kids, and adults will still have a good time, especially as you pick out the different game characters floating around. It's got just the right mix of comedy with a touching story, and the last scene, oh gods. I think I shed a tear there at the end.



  1. Good review Daishi. I definitely look forward to seeing what they can do with these sequels and hopefully, just hopefully, they don't let it become one tired game-joke, after another.

    1. Yeah fortunately the heart of the story was never about random game cameos.