Holy shit, Disney made an animated movie centered completely around video games. Not only that, but classic video games. I knew the very second I saw the teaser image for this about a year ago, that I was there opening weekend. I was excited since I thought it would be nice to see gaming culture depicted in a classy way. It’s not a shitty video game based movie, or a bunch of teens running around playing Xbox and yelling about pussy, but a high budget, Disney cartoon that is also a complete celebration of arcades and classic gaming.
As it stands, Wreck-It-Ralph is also easily one of the best movies about video games ever made.
John C Reilly (sounding perfectly schlubby) is Ralph, the villain in a 30-year-old arcade game called Fix It Felix Jr. Ralph is tired of being the bad guy and being ostracized, with the group not even inviting him to the 30th anniversary party for his own game. He decides he’s going to venture out from the confines of his own game, in order to win a medal to prove to everyone that he has what it takes to be the good guy. The problem is that if you die outside your own game, you never respawn. Also a character’s absence makes it appear as though a game is glitching and should be unplugged. If this happens, all of the characters within will be rendered homeless. Adventure!
I knew I would dig this movie about 10 minutes in. Within that time you get references to Asteroids, Centipede, Mario, Sonic, Street Fighter, Tapper, and a whole slew of others. There are wide shots where it’s impossible to take in everything that is happening on screen and all of the different characters parading around. What makes it work though is that the references are presented fairly subtly. When you see Ryu from Street Fighter, no character actually says “Hey Ryu, how are things in Street Fighter?” You either know it’s him or you don’t. It’s not Family Guy, no need to point out the joke. This is how it remains for the entirety of the movie. You either get the references and appreciate them, or you have no clue and enjoy one of the many other appealing aspects of the movie.
The recognizable video game characters actually don’t play as large a role as the advertising might make you think. After the first half, we’re dealing almost exclusively with the movies original characters. This is for the best since a whole movie of trotting out characters we recognize and in-jokes about Metal Gear Solid would get exhausting. Instead, the primary plot deals with Ralph’s friendship with a young girl who lives within a Mario Kart clone that takes place entirely in a land of candy and desserts. She has been banned from racing by King Candy (Alan Tudyk, very obviously channeling Ed Wynn) for reasons I won’t spoil but were actually pretty surprisingly. The story and message may not be too original (hey guys did you know it’s important to be yourself) but the setting and characters are what makes it enjoyable, not to mention a very funny and clever script, which has the new best scene featuring Oreo cookies ever put to film. I know I know it’s hard to believe, but just you wait and see.
Reilly is perfect for Ralph, which I already mentioned. Jack McBrayer as Fix It Felix is essentially channeling his 30 Rock character, but it fits perfectly for Felix. Jane Lynch as the leader of the first person shooter Hero’s Duty (yes, there are plenty of poop jokes) is a pretty standard character for Lynch (lots of yelling and insulting) but hey, she’s damn good at it and gets some of the movie’s best lines. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Sarah Silverman being annoying as the little girl Venellope, but I didn’t find that at all. She’s bratty sure, but she’s also so damn lovable that you have to root for her, unless you don’t have a soul. You have a soul right? Then you will agree.
The one slight I have, and this isn’t even against the movie itself, is that the 3D is ridiculously underwhelming. I didn’t even realize the movie was in 3D until we were buying our tickets, and if possible I would recommend not even bothering and going to see in standard 2D. Some of the racing scenes are neat, but there is not much here taking advantage of the format, though that trailer they showed for the animated Nic Cage caveman movie was actually pretty damn impressive looking in 3D. So maybe wait and see that for your 3D fix, especially your 3D Nic Cage fix.
This is clearly a movie made by people who love classic games. These guys even went as far as to have Buckner and Garcia write and record a theme song for the movie, which is terrific and something a lot of people won’t pick up on. Kid’s aren’t going to have a damn clue what half of this stuff means, but the parents will love it, making this one of the rare movies that I can actually concur with people and say it really is for everybody. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this movie. I don’t think I can make it any clearer that you should definitely go and check this out.