Almost Super: Wreck-it Ralph
Wreck-It Ralph 2012
So once again this year I made the trek to my local movie theater. More than superheroes, I’ve always been a big fan of animation, and on top of that, I’ve grown up with video games. Starting with a trusty Commodore 64 playing Jumpman, Circus, Snoopy, and other games before moving up to a Coleco Vision. I eventually moved up through the Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Playstation, PS2, and DS before moving onto the PC MMO City of Heroes, heck I even work in an arcade. I recognized many of the video games referenced, especially some of the classic arcade cabinets, as well as the games that inspired the original games featured in this movie. While Fix it Felix Jr. is an original game, it has its roots in Donkey Kong, Crazy Climber, and a touch of Rampage. Sugar Rush which is a candy version of Mario Kart/Nicktoons Racing, and Hero’s Duty is essentially every modern rail shooter ever. This movie was pretty much made for me to like it and I was in from the very opening.
The first part of the movie is where most of the arcade/video game mashups happen, and the mix of visual styles is fun and impressive. When moving out of the villain support group hosted in Pac-Man’s cabinet, you get to see the extremely pixellated versions of the characters heading out through the electrical cord. There are a ton of video game references, and I know that in the theater I was in there were a few jokes where I was the only one who was laughing at a more obscure pull, like when Ralph smashes a cake within his game and the cake even splatters in a subtle pixellated pattern, or the end credits where they reference the Street Fighter car smashing bonus stage. The main cameos come from Street Fighter, Q-Bert, and Pac-Man, as well as plenty of other characters strewn out in background pictures and on the floor of Game Central Station. It’s clear that the creators of the movie have a real love of video games in general and it comes through the screen in a big bad way. Although one running gag in the movie I did misinterpret as a different video game reference. They often talked about “going Turbo”, which I made the connection to Street Fighter II Turbo early on before realizing I was way off once the movie revealed what they really meant.
Once Ralph makes it into the candy coated racing game Sugar Rush, the video game references slow down and it really starts to get into the heart of the movie. And honestly I think it’s one that a lot of hardcore video gamers can relate to. I was lucky enough to never really be an outcast in school, and I never had a problem with bullies, but I was never a social person, and I spent more nights than not staying at home by myself playing Dragon Warrior 4 or Secret of Mana or Final Fantasy 7 or Suikoden 2. And the heart of this movie is centered around two outcasts of society. Ralph, the de-facto villain of the game who spends his nights at the dump while everyone else lives in the penthouse, and Vanellope, the glitching racer who is bullied by all the other racers for being different. Their entire motivation is just to belong, and that’s something that connects to a whole lot of people out there. There are several moments in this movie where that connection hits hard and true. Both John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman do impressive jobs voicing these characters. Sarah Silverman especially makes you forget that it’s a raunchy comedian doing a little kid voice, and really makes you believe in Vanellope.
The other characters are a lot more fun, Calhoun is the over the top battle hardened soldier with an ultra-tragic backstory and a nonsensical quip for every situation. She’s Lara Croft, Samus, Master Chief, and plenty of other characters all rolled into one and Jane Lynch sounds like she’s having a hell of a fun time with the character. Fix it Felix Jr. is the complete opposite as the goody goody naive character in way out of his element. And King Candy, as the leader of Sugar Rush is a lot of fun as an Ed Wynn-ish character, who was best known as the Mad Hatter in the animated Alice in Wonderland. I also enjoyed the humor in this movie, even some of the more childish gags. It’s such a likable world, it’s hard not to go along with it.
Aside from all the different characters, the plot of the movie followed along some typical paths, but there were enough twists and turns to keep it fresh. And may be because I wasn’t looking out for them, I didn’t see any of them coming, at least none of the major ones. Most of the reviews I read said that they expected one type of movie, and got a different one, but a different one that they enjoyed. And honestly, it’s refreshing to see that kind of surprise still make it into theaters. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel disjointed because the very premise of the world within the movie allows for the variation. And once it falls into its main story, it stays on course until the end. This has quickly become one of my favorite movies of all time. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.