Wreck-It Ralph Made Me Feel Kinda Old

posted by @HeyItsKamo

HAVE YA SEEN WRECK-IT RALPH YET? HAVE YA?

It was pretty good; I don’t go to the movies very often, but this was one that I was really interested in catching right away. It has the looks of a Pixar film, but it’s actually under the Walt Disney Animation Studios tag, which is known for the more traditional Disney cartoons (I think the last one I’ve seen on the list was Hercules?)

I’m not going to get too in-depth with the summary of this movie, as you can just go over to Wikipedia or IMDB, but here it is in as few lines as I can explain: This entire movie takes place in a fucking video game world. Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the self-described “wrecker” and villain in a popular arcade game called Fix-It Felix Jr. The game’s protagonist is a handy hero named Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer), who, with the help of his magical hammer, has the task of fixing a building that is continuously destroyed by Ralph. Once the building has been completely fixed, Felix receives a medal for his hard work and the buildings tenants throw Ralph off the roof, where he lands in a pile of shit mud. Ralph, having gotten sick of the repetition of the game and always being looked at as the bad guy, has his emotions come to a head when he returns to his game after a “Bad Guys Anonymous” meeting to discover that Felix and the residents are having a big celebration for the 30th anniversary of the game… and they didn’t invite Ralph. The big guy vows that he’s going to win a medal that’s even better than the one Felix wins and heads off to the central game terminal (all of the video games in the arcade are attached to a central terminal, so after hours all the game characters can come and congregate and go between games and what not). Ralph heads over to the local bar (Tappers), where he runs into a drunk soldier from a first-person shooter game called Hero’s Duty. He finds out that if a player successfully defeats the enemies in HD, they win a medal… you see where this is going, right?

So after stealing the soldiers uniform, Ralph heads over to HD to get his medal and return to his own game as a hero/rub it in everybody’s face. Shit does not go according to plan and Ralph ends up in an alien ship with a strange alien bug inside. The ship goes haywire, leaves the game for the central terminal, and eventually crash lands in another game, a racing title called Sugar Rush (think Mario Kart but with Strawberry Shortcake characters). From there on, Ralph is introduced to several characters in the land of Sugar Rush, namely Vanellope (Sarah Silverman, who is awful), a “glitch” character in the game that is just trying to get herself in the race. They go through a lot of trying-but-hilarious situations and the movie ends with a typical Disney “happily ever after” ending.

There’s a ton I’m leaving out, but I figure that if you really want to know, you can just go see the damn thing for yourself. There were a lot of positives in this movie, so I’ll just start at the beginning. Ralph, who again is voiced by Reilly (Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, Step Brothers, Cedar Rapids), is a great character. I’m not sure if it’s his voice, how the character was written, or what he actually brings to the table in an acting sense, but the audience really felt for this big lug and that was all thanks to Reilly.

One thing that I really appreciated about Ralph was that Disney marketed this one towards children, but a good chunk of the target audience was adults; I’m 25 and I actually laughed my ass off at this movie. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the cast- there’s a lot of comedians that are known for their “adult” humor, and while it’s subtle, it’s still there. The story was great, the animation was incredible (I thought the beginning sequence in the arcade was fucking real until the animated characters started interacting with the games), the voice acting was top notch (again, the cast was especially impressive), and the overall humor was on par with what I was hoping for.

While a lot of the jokes were repetitive physical gags directed towards the younger audience member (oh look, Ralph fell into a puddle of [insert weird substance here]), there were a lot of jokes that cracked me up that I would have missed had I not been paying attention. The graffiti on the walls when Felix and Calhoun were going in to Sugar Rush had me laughing pretty good, and the goofy dancing done by the 8-bit characters from Fix-It Felix Jr. during the anniversary party scene was great. The puns were pretty corny, especially the “you wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?” gag, and the general nonsense that the writers and animators were able to work with in a “video game environment” was awesome- it seems like they were given free rein to try out all kinds of crazy shit, and that only made the movie all the better.

image c/o screenrant.com

I went in to Wreck-It Ralph with the mindset that it was really going to be more of a kids movie (weird, right? Disney made an animated film geared more towards the younger audience?), which it was. And that’s fine, I still really enjoyed it and I know I’ll watch it again, but I left the theater thinking one thing: how much of this humor was lost by the “ideal” pre-teen demographic? Do young gamers (this has to be the ideal audience type, right?) know who Dr. Robotnik is? Have they ever played Street Fighter? If not, that may have made the Zangief scenes a bit confusing, although the situational humor wouldn’t have been lost- a half-naked Russian fighter talking about crushing opponents between his muscular thighs is funny no matter what. It just made me wonder about this younger generation of video game enthusiasts and raised kind of a startling question: what the h*ck do kids today know about older video games? I’m not old by any means, but I grew up on Super Mario Bros., and Sonic the Hedgehog, so the wave of home gaming systems and titles that came out during the late 80s and early 90s is my bread and butter- none of this stuff is new to me, I know my gaming history… but what about the younger crowd? Do they get these jokes/references?

That is probably the thing that really stuck with me the most after I left the theater- the writers included these classic characters (Hell, even creating an 8-bit Donkey Kong style game in Fix-It Felix Jr.) which were shown heavily in trailers for the movie, aiming to bring the older video game fans in to the seats. There is no fucking way that more than a handful of people in that movie theater knew who Q*bert was; I would bet that the majority of the audience who see Ralph (and not just opening weekend, I’m talking anyone that ever sees this movie) have never even heard of Tapper, let alone played it before. Hell, I even forgot all about Tapper until they brought him up in the film (it was an awesome moment of clarity/remembrance by the way, and I’ve been searching all weekend for a Rom or an emulator or something for it). It just raised some questions I didn’t think I was going to be asking myself after watching movie aimed at children, and that was a bit unsettling for me.

I still play lots of new video games (I just played Minecraft for like three gott damn hours), but it doesn’t seem like there are any Mario’s or Sonic’s for kids nowadays. Nameless soldiers and athletes rule today’s market- the days of villains like Ralph seem to be behind us.

Anyways, enough of my aging complex talk, let’s get back to the movie.

In terms of the story (which was very well written), I guess this film can be compared to the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (hear me out, y’all). We all know about how our boy Rudolph got disrespected by his fellow reindeer (they wouldn’t even let him join in their damn games!), but in the end, that red-nosed sumbitch was the guy that saved the day. Ralph is a lot like Rudolph. He wants to be the good guy/hero, the one that gets some recognition once in a while, but all the “good” video game characters either fear him or think he’s a big idiot. All the “bad” video game characters (villains, if you will) tell him the same thing: don’t rock the boat. He’s a bad guy, he was programmed to be a bad guy, why would he want to do anything besides be the bad guy? Ralph thinks this is bullshit, and by the end of the movie he’s changed everyone’s perception about him. He’s still the bad guy, but he finally gets what he was really after the entire time: respect.

I didn’t have much beef with this movie, like I said before, I really enjoyed it. But a few things could have been better. In some scenes, the mouths flat out didn’t match up with the audio. I don’t know if it was the character design (gigantic jaws/mouths) or what, but there were a few scenes where I thought, “Holy shit, that’s not even fucking close. Did they try and rush this out or something?” Don’t get me wrong, the audio and animation were incredible, but some scenes really reminded me of badly dubbed Kung Fu movies. I also think that there could have been more interaction with other video games in the arcade. Ralph really only goes into four games… why not more? I’m hoping for a sequel, because there’s just so much more the writers could have done with the story in that respect.

I also could have done with Sarah Silverman. When I first heard her voice, I almost got up right there and walked out. I just don’t think that she’s funny and her voice is just plain irritating, which is made even more so because she tries to talk like a child. It was brutal and a lot of the reviews I’ve read so far about Ralph mentioned this (other people aren’t fans of hers? Glad it’s not just me).

I’m really hoping Ralph smashes the box office, because when the rubble cleared, Wreck-It Ralph was a smashing good time.

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