Major movie companies, please take note: Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” is everything that could possibly be done right in a video game movie, as far as a gamer is concerned, ever. I can’t even stress how hard I tried to find negative points in this movie (I did manage to dig a few up here and there, finally, after three viewings, but we’ll get there). The combination of what feels like a perfect cast, excellent music scores, and working with the actual game companies, among other things, created an enjoyable movie experience that doesn’t play out like some bad joke for people who enjoy video games as well as movies.
A quick and dirty synopsis for anyone who has still missed out on what this movie is about. Thirty years of the arcade game “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” have left Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) wondering if things would be better if he were in Felix’s (voiced by Jack McBrayer) shoes. Trying to get a taste of what it’s like to be praised as the hero, Ralph starts game-hopping—or, as it’s later called, going Turbo. I can’t really say a whole lot more without giving away even miniscule spoilers.
I was quite pleasantly surprised by the cast of “Wreck-It Ralph”. The only other knowledge I have of John C. Reilly is his role in “Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show: Great Job”. Before the movie’s opening sequence was over, I was sold on how he’d handle the role of Ralph. Sarah Silverman was also very enjoyable, although the toilet humor could have been cut back a bit. Not so sure this movie needed a five minute exchange of jokes because the word “duty” was used. Also, at the risk of fanboying a little: when I found out Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly/Serenity) was in it, I was truly sad no one ended up saying “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.” With context, and seeing the movie, this makes much more sense, I would imagine.
The video game themes, with particular notes on the arcade setting, were spot-on. The evolution of Litwak’s, the arcade in the movie, from its beginnings with what are now classics such as Asteroids, progressing to newer games. Fixtures such as Whack-a-Mole and Skee-Ball are noted, and the practice of reserving next game by placing a quarter on the game’s cabinet made the special place in my heart for arcades warm up like a tiny, nerdy little sun. The shift from 8-bit stylized graphics to more modern graphics in “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” helped add depth to these characters as well, as it went from a “hey, this is an old video game” view to “this is what these characters do when the arcade’s closed” one.
Then there was the music, which deserves so much praise. If the movie had shifted to an 8-bit stylized setting, the music reflected as much. If it were in a more modern game setting or what amounted to be the over-world (Litwak’s, for instance), there were more involved scores. Almost all of the music, however, fit the scene it was set to and sounded brilliant. Then there was Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive”, which I’m pretty sure had absolutely no place in this movie whatsoever. Disney, that song isn’t actually about cars or driving at all. Not even a little. That being said, I’m hard-pressed to find a car-related or driving-related song that would go as well with the pacing of the scene.
And, of course, a Disney movie wouldn’t be a proper Disney movie without a message. However, Disney doesn’t wrap that message around a large club and beat the moviegoer with it. It’s integrated into the plot of the movie smoothly, and makes for a few tear-jerker moments. Yes, this movie actually made me choke up a few times. I have no shame in admitting that. Digression aside, the message was a simple one, and one we’ve all heard before: accept yourself for who you are, for that’s the best “you” you can be. Or, as the Bad Anon mantra goes: “I am bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There is no one I’d rather be than me.”
Basically, “Wreck-It Ralph” is the animated movie to go see this year. Disney was ambitious, taking on so much video game culture in one movie, and the end result was a highly enjoyable and emotionally moving. The short animation before the movie, alone, is worth the ticket price, and it has so many fantastic video game references that I’d hazard to say it’s impossible to catch them all in just one viewing. This panned out nicely, as the first thing I found myself wanting to do after seeing “Wreck-It Ralph” was see “Wreck-It Ralph” again. Overall, this is a truly enjoyable movie, whether you play video games or not, and one that merits multiple views (and deserves ALL the awards).
Philip Gorski is a writer, a gamer, and something of a megalomaniac (in his own mind). He writes about fiction, and posts some of his original works, on his blog, which is appropriately located at www.misadventuresinfiction.com. His philosophy on life is that one person can never have too many books.