Wreck-It Ralph

Hey! It’s Deborah again, and I would like to talk about Toy Story.

No, you didn’t read that wrong—I said Toy Story, but this is still a Wreck-It Ralph review. I just believe we have to address Toy Story before we tackle this movie. Just bear with me here. As most of us know, Toy Story was the breakout hit from Pixar that pretty much launched the studio into success. Fortunately for Disney, it also kept their company afloat because at that time they were only coming up with sub-par to unbearable movies. The question is: what made the movie so successful? It couldn’t have been the premise, because it was basically the same as some old bedtime stories such as ‘The Steadfast Tin-Soldier’, the  ’Velveteen Rabbit’, and the other John Lasseter production ‘Brave Little Toaster’. Perhaps it was the touching combination of humor, heart, and the nostalgic joys of child play that spoke to both the target demographic and their parents. Whatever it was, the Toy Story movies defined many of our childhoods and I’m sure that anyone who saw the final installment to the movie was at least close to tears (Or so I’ve heard, as I have yet to see the final movie). Now along comes Wreck-It Ralph, an aspiring video game movie with basically the same premise: What do *insert inanimate objects of your choice here* do when nobody is looking? This could seem like a suspicious move on the part of the House of the Mouse, considering that this movie was not distributed by Pixar. So, is this movie just a fast and cheap way to earn viewership from an audience having Toy Story withdrawal, plus a few extra views from the critical gamer crowd? This is what we’re here to explore.

Plot

The titular character Ralph is the villain of the arcade game “Fixit Felix Jr.” and is feeling very unsatisfied with his life. He just wants to be accepted by his community, but they are quick to type-cast him as the brute he was programmed to be. RalphHe tries to turn his fate around by earning a medal in another arcade game called Hero’s Duty, a Halo/Call of Duty-esque first person shooter game. However, in a catastrophic turn of events, he winds up losing his hard-earned medal in a ridiculously saccharine racing game called Sugar Rush, when a young, glitchy girl named Vanellope (really) steals it from him in order to get a chance to be a playable character. Meanwhile, without Ralph, his game has the threat of being shut down permanently; so Felix ventures out to prevent his colleague from ‘going Turbo’ (a term for game-hopping during open hours at the arcade). All this and more makes up the story of Wreck-it Ralph. Does it hold up?

I personally liked it. It was a very engaging story that teaches children to accept themselves for who they are, glitches and all, and displays the fun of playing video games. Now, I should probably inform you of the stigma of video game movies, in case you don’t already know: they pretty much all stink. With the exception of perhaps Prince of Persia to some degree (also Disney), all previous video game movies either missed the point of games, over-complicated the plot, or just plain insulted the gamer community. Wreck-it Ralph tells a good story while also showing the proper amount of respect to the gaming culture. Unfortunately, the video game characters you see in the trailers don’t appear quite as much as you might like, though they serve their purpose well in fleshing out the world of this movie. The popular video game characters are not the only Easter Eggs thrown in this movie for gamers, and as a non-gamer, I would have to say that it didn’t alienate me at all.

Animation

Now let us talk about the look of the movie. The setting takes place in various gaming worlds, (though not as much as the trailer suggests) each with its own unique look. The type of game is reflected in the setting as well as the characters. The eight-bit worlds still move in the rigid eight bit movements when they are in their more 3 dimensional versions. Hero’s Duty is sufficiently dark and gritty, to the point that it could have been a legitimate game. The biggest props probably go to the design of Sugar Rush. If the name isn’t enough to give you diabetes, than the actual set-up will do the job for you. Everything, including the cars used for racing and even some of the background characters, is made out of some kind of candy. It also presented the horror that is Rainbow Road in Super Mario Galaxy, with its own Sour-Patch Road. Another great feat was Game Central Station, the world between the plugs were video game characters go to visit other games when the arcade is closed. This is the scene where most of the popular game characters have their cameos, and the realistic crowd behavior of this mix of made-up and established video game figures is very well done.

Acting

As you would expect from a Disney production, this movie boasts a glamorous voice cast. Oddly enough, most of the voice cast are television actors. We have Mindy Kaling from The Office and The Mindy Project in a minor role, Jane Lynch from Glee as the tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun, Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock as Fixit Felix Jr., Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame as the eccentric King Candy, and Sarah Silverman (from way too many things) as Vanellope von Schweetz (I know). I think John C. Reilly (Ralph) is one of the few voice actors who is already known for appearing on the Silver Screen frequently. All of the actors do a fantastic job in their roles, particularly Reilly and Silverman as the focus characters. Reilly is able to convey Ralph as a slightly quick-tempered but well-meaning, if clumsy, giant; and Silverman  portrays Vanellope as a slightly annoying, yet insecure little girl. Their best scenes are as they develop the characters’ friendships, as it is very endearing, natural, and comical (like Boo and Sully from Monster’s Inc). My only complaint is that they couldn’t get Jaleel  White to reprise his role as Sonic. I know he was only in the movie for about ten seconds, but come on… that was the obvious casting call. (In case you don’t know, Jaleel White voiced Sonic in the epic cartoon from the 90s)

Film Short

Before I give my rating for this movie, I feel like I should give a mini-review of the short film that preceded the feature, Paperman. It is a silent CGI movie with models that look like classic 2-D animated Disney character design, set in mostly black and white that takes place in a time when people still used type writers. The story is about a guy who meets a girl at a train station when one of the documents from his folder lands on her face, leaving only a colored lipstick print on it. In true Disney fashion, this is all it takes for the couple to fall hopelessly in love, though it seems nothing much will come of this relationship as the girl gets on a train to parts unknown. The guy broods his way to work only to discover that the girl is in the building across the street from his job! In his desperation to not remain single, he throws out his entire folder of paperwork one by one in a bid to get the girl’s attention, only for all his attempts to go wrong. Frustrated with his failure, and the realistic possibility that he’s lost his job, he leaves his workplace in defeat. Then something ‘randomly magical’ happens. I won’t tell you anymore since I pretty much gave you half the plot as it is and you can guess where this goes if you know Disney. The music and animation is very sweet, and the story is also poignant in a goofy way. Maybe it’s because I’m a heartless person, but this short-film made me laugh more than “aww.” I know I should be thinking He sacrificed his job to get the girl, but all I can think is he lost his job just to get a girlfriend. I give Paperman 4/5 tiny Yellow Hoodies, because really.

Conclusion

As for Wreck-it Ralph, I give it 5/5 Yellow Hoodies for being an entertaining family movie, and a gamer seal of approval from my gamer friend who watched it with me. I hope you guys have a great week, and as finals week approaches I hope all of you are able to keep level heads, and don’t go Turbo during this stressful time.

Written by Deborah P.

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