OMG I am incredibly sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I have excuses (good ones in fact), but it shouldn’t matter. I know I have people who love to read my blog, and I really do appreciate you. Just understand that I won’t be posting as much for the next, well, I dunno when. long story short: I both started a new job, and I’m in the middle of my first pregnancy. Any moment I get to rest I just find myself sleeping.
This post isn’t about me, it’s about Ralph. Wreck-it Ralph to be exact. The protagonist (or is he the antagonist?) of Disney’s first successful attempt to market to not only little boys, but teenage boys as well. After a bunch of failed attempts (Black Cauldron, Atlantis, Treasure Planet…) they FINALLY succeeded. So here’s the question. Why did this movie succeed when the others have failed?
The others all had their issues. One tried to cram too much into one story, one was boring and didn’t give us good characters, and the other was good, but no one gave it a chance because it was a normal story told in a strange way. Now I am in no way saying that Wreck-it Ralph is perfect. It has its issues too, but it doesn’t suffer from any of the issues the others had to suffer from. What else worked for it? Disney didn’t try too hard to market this to boys. They just… marketed it. They didn’t try to make it “cool” by adding songs from a well known teen-angst artist. They didn’t produce trailers that showed you only the “cool” or “dangerous” parts. Instead, they just, for once, took a topic that boys and teens actually care about and made a movie about it.
That’s right: Video games. And it worked. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Lassiter is a genius. My husband saw this trailer and immediately wanted to see it. Meanwhile, I was like “yeah, ok.” Go figure. A topic boys care about will actually make them want to see it. Disney finally cracked the code!
So I wasn’t too excited to see it, but did because after Tangled I promised myself I would never miss another in the theater again unless there was an extremely legit reason. And I was really blown away. This movie that I thought was going to be “eh…” and “just ok” had heart. It had characters that made you love them. It had a twist. It had subtle jokes and nostalgia up the wazoo. It acted as both an homage and a parody of video games.
So what’s it about?
Well, the story takes place inside an arcade, where when the people go home, the video game characters come to life. They can travel between games by the power cords, which meet at Game Central Station (aka a power strip). We meet our protagonist, Ralph, as he explains he’s been the bad guy in the game “Fix-it Felix Jr.” since the game was plugged in. He’s at the equivalent of an AA meeting for villains, where they reassure each other that they’re not bad, they just have to be for the game. Ralph leaves and returns to his game, where he finds the rest of the characters in the game are celebrating their anniversary and didn’t invite him. This makes him angry, so he barges in, accidentally wrecks some stuff, and gets in an argument with one of the other characters that tells him if he brings home a medal, they’ll believe he can be something other than bad. Everyone knows bad guys don’t win medals.
So Ralph is off to earn a medal and prove to everyone he’s not a bad guy. This leads him to a game called Hero’s Duty, where he poses as a soldier in a shooter game where the characters have to stop robotic bugs from killing them. After abandoning everyone, he manages to get to the top of the tower and get the medal for the game, but at the same time sets off one of the bug eggs, catapulting him and one of the bugs into a escape pod that jettisons from Hero’s Duty into another game called Sugar Rush, which is essentially like Mario Kart. Here he watches the Bug drown and thinks everything is good.
However he loses his medal, and upon climbing a tree to get it, runs into a kid named Vanellope who mistakens the medal for a gold coin. She swipes it before he can reach it, and soon we find out that she needs it to enter the race to determine who will be the avatars for the next day. It also comes out that she’s a glitch – a character that wasn’t even supposed to exist in the game.
Upset at her, Ralph sets out to seek revenge but finds out that Vanellope is treated just as he is in his game. The two make a deal that if he helps her win the race, she’ll get him his medal back. They make cars, practice driving, etc.
Meanwhile, Felix learns about Ralph’s “Game jumping” and tracks him to Hero’s Duty, where Sargent Calhoun is keen to go after him as well after learning one of the bugs managed to get out of the game. They get to Sugar Rush, where we learn that the bug didn’t really die but instead is laying eggs underneath the game.
Back with Ralph and Vanellope, we learn that King Candy, despite banning Vanellope from racing, is attempting to do her a favor. He tells Ralph that if she becomes a racer, the players will notice her glitching and think the game is messed up. If that happens and they get unplugged, she will essentially die because glitches can’t leave their games. This causes Ralph to have a change of heart and he actually destroys her racer, telling her its for her own good.
I really don’t want to give away a lot more of this movie. Let’s just say there’s a mystery surrounding all of Sugar Rush. It all comes to a head at the race, where Vanellope and Ralph have made up and she’s racing, and the bugs from the other game begin their swarming attack on the game with seemingly nothing to stop it.
But don’t worry though. It’s a Disney movie. We can’t have a bad ending.
This movie could have been a pixar movie. It’s unique, funny, and heartwarming at the same time. In fact, I was incredibly surprised by exactly how heartwarming this story is and the relationships our characters get with each other. It was something I wasn’t expecting, and I think that’s why I like this movie as much as I do.
First off, I really think the voice casting was spot on for this movie. They got well known and popular comedians, which can sometimes backfire, for the main four characters, and some maybe lesser known ones (but just as funny) for our other characters.
John C. Reilly is Ralph, our protagonist and a character I strangely find I can relate to well. A big tough-looking guy, he just wants to be seen for what he is on the inside, not as just a label, or the “villain” of his video game, which everyone treats him like in real life. It frustrates him, which is essentially why the entire movies takes place. But here’s the thing: I think we’ve ALL felt like people aren’t seeing us for who we really are, but judging us either on appearances, or maybe first impressions. We can all relate to Ralph because we’ve all felt left out. We’ve all been in a situation where we’d give anything to have people like us.
Helping Ralph along the way is Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman (in the only thing I can stand her in!). She’s sort of in the same boat as Ralph, being a glitch and all, and no one likes her. She has her own motivations, and just like Ralph wants nothing more than to fit into her game. Now I know what everyone will say – Vanellope is ANNOYING. And yes, she is – in the beginning. She’s a KID! she’s potty-mouthed and full of herself. And I’m going to use the same argument I did with Koda in Brother Bear. She’s supposed to be annoying because she’s a kid. realistic children are not all sunshine and rainbows and perfect. 8 and 9 year olds are annoying as hell! BUT that being said, with Vanellope it really is a bit of a front. She has this want so bad to fit into her game that it’s made her have to act strong when in fact inside she isn’t. She and Ralph are cut from the same mold, and that’s why they get along so well.
Together they forge an unlikely friendship on the agreement that if Ralph helps Vanellope win the race and become a racer, she’ll give him the medal back he won and both can return home a hero and feel accepted by their games. Through their working together, Vanellope manages to make him understand that he’s not all bad, and he makes her feel like she’s more than a glitch – that she actually might belong in the game. She’s the first person who is able to see him as him, and not a villain. By the end of the movie, the two really do care about each other, even willing to do the unthinkable to keep the other safe. The two of them are wonderful to watch, and it’s refreshing in a Disney movie to have the main relationship not be about romantic love.
Now don’t worry, we do have a romantic love plot, but it’s actually 2nd shelf and it manages to be utterly hilarious. After Ralph leaves his game, Fix-it Felix (Jack MacBrayer) tracks him down to the shooter game Hero’s Duty and meets Calhoun (Jane Lynch). The two of them set off to find Ralph and the missing bug from her game that could destroy another. During their time together, Calhoun finds herself attracted to the little 8bit character, as he is just so gosh darn nice. But she does have her demons to get over too.
The two of them are honestly just the actors playing the best caricatures of themselves (think Kenneth from 30 rock and Sue Sylvester from Glee with a gun and you understand the characters), but they do it so well and both are so funny that they make this movie memorable even when Ralph and Vanellope aren’t on the screen.
Rounding out the cast we have King Candy (Alan Tudyk) as the ruler of Sugar Rush game, Taffyta (Mindy Kaling) as a racer that is not at all in love with Vanellope and tries to thwart her every move, and a few other random characters that really just build this world within a world. The characters are great to watch.
The world (and the animation) is beautiful and incredibly genius. You can tell this was a Pixar guy that ok’d this project. I mean come on. Moving between games through a cord? having rules like “If you die outside your game, you don’t regenerate”? I know some people think it’s very similar of the idea behind Toy Story, but I see it as a completely different entity.
Speaking for the animation, the amount of detail they put into this movie is incredible. The characters in the 8 bit game “Fix it Felix” (other than Felix and Ralph) actually move like they would in the game in jerky motions and only in boxes. The dust in each game is different. In the high-def games the characters are more realistic just like you would see in real life. They really put a lot of thought and care into this movie, and it shows. And personally? I think that just adds to the enjoyment of this movie because you actually believe what you’re watching.
Now I do admit the storyline for this movie can be a bit hard to follow and there does seem to be a lot of stuff going on that you really have to pay attention to. A lot of really important points are mentioned at some point in the movie that then become important later. Like the dying out of your game. Like the bug becoming what it eats. Like the whole “going Turbo” thing. You really DO have to pay attention.
I could view this as a plus but also a minus of this movie, because I don’t know if kids would pay that much attention to a movie like this. Heck, I had to watch it at least twice to catch everything! But in the end I count it as part of the mystery that surrounds most of the movie – Sugar Rush is full of secrets and bit by bit, the viewer AND Ralph figure it out.
I mean think about it – when was the last time a Disney movie had a twist? I’m not going to give anything away, but I honestly did not see it coming. It was extremely well done.
My issues with this movie are few and far between, and they actually have more to do with the point I made above: you DO have to pay attention, which might be hard for kids. The plot is a bit “meh” but that’s only because you’re not seeing the whole picture. Vanellope CAN be a bit annoying but I forgive her. The end does seem to drag for a bit. Honestly I forgive a lot of the small list of issues with this movie because what I love about it I really love. The characters are funny and memorable and deep. The jokes are subtle and not so subtle and inventive. It’s just GOOD.
As much as any pixar movie, and any great Disney movie, it has a great message: be yourself, and its ok if people view you as something you’re really not. labels don’t make you who you are. Disney has recently been able to make me cry at the ends of their movies (LASSITER!!!) and this one is no exception.
A few last thoughts:
– I love the music in this one. It’s another part that builds the whole idea of the video game world.
– love that all the soldiers have PTSD from Hero’s Duty.
– I LOVE the part where Vanellope gives Ralph her cookie medal. It proves that the best medal you can get is from someone who really loves you and looks up to you.
This movie was a complete surprise to me, and I bet it was to a lot of other people to. Wreck-it Ralph shows that Disney CAN do a “guy” movie that somehow manages to appeal to both men and women, young and old. It’s got flare, it’s creative, it’s funny, and it’s got some memorable characters and memorable jokes. If you haven’t seen it, give it a watch. You might be surprised by just how sweet it really is. I still think the best line is at the end of the freaking movie:
I give Wreck-it Ralph (2012) a 4 out of 5.
Up Next: Frozen (2013)