“Doomsday and armageddon just had a baby and it… is… ugly!”
The Scoop: 2012 PG, directed by Rich Moore and starring John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, and Sarah Silverman
Tagline: Get ready for a new kind of hero.
Summary Capsule: Retro video game bad guy tries to become a hero by jumping arcade cabinets.
Justin’s rating: 1UP
Justin’s review: In an age when filmmakers have gotten so predictable and play it so safe with the regurgitated mush that swamps theaters every year, it seems as though creativity and fun have retreated into animation for sanctuary. There’s something about animation that gives writers and directors and everyone permission to be kids again and be a little nuts. Have fun with it, y’know? Maybe their contemporaries don’t look down on them for being goofy in a cartoon than if they were doing the same for a live-action movie.
So if you took Tron and Tron Legacy and put some actual characterization in there, some memorable dialogue to go with all of those snazzy looks, and jacked up the creativity, you might end up in the vicinity of Wreck-It Ralph. A love-letter to video game generations both past and present, Wreck-It Ralph gives a behind-the-scenes view of what might go on inside arcade cabinets when the store locks up for the night.
The titular character is a “bad guy” in his game, which is sort of a mix of Donkey Kong and Rampage. He’s tired of smashing everything up and being ostracized by the other characters in his game, so he goes on a self-made quest to get a hero’s medal and prove that he can, for once, be a good guy. This leads him to other video games, including the Halo-esque Hero’s Duty and the kart racer Sugar Rush, where his actions make a mess for others and start stirring these communities up.
While the themes of good vs. bad, old vs. new aren’t going to be featured in anyone’s doctoral thesis (at least not a good one), it’s a serviceable plot that is secondary to the humor, creativity, and likable characters. Ralph is a bit of a numskull but he does physical comedy well, and when he meets Vanellope, a “glitch” in Sugar Rush, he gets a partner to trade insults and look to each other for mutual redemption.
While the main games featured were all created for the movie, Wreck-It Ralph has a surprising number of well-known cameos from franchise all over the place, including Pac-Man, Sonic, Bowser, Tapper, the cast of Street Fighter II, and Q*Bert. For a gamer who cut his teeth on one of the first console generations, it was smile-worthy to see the old guys and gals trotted out for recognition. Kind of like being let in on an inside joke, a secret password for the gamers in the audience. Beyond the characters themselves, there are so many little details that the movie tosses in for gamers, including different forms of animation, how the arcade itself evolved over the years, and the internal logic of how this interconnected game universe works.
Video games are so much a part of our culture now that it only seems natural to have a movie that glorifies rather than mocks a passion that many people have. We’ve all wondered what the characters on the other side of the screen might be thinking, and now we know. I shall feel doubly bad for getting any of them killed from now on.
- Unlike most animated films, the principal actors regularly recorded audio sessions together in the same room, a situation which led to a lot of improvising.
- Ralph, Felix, Vanellope and Calhoun all resemble their respective voice actors.
- Several popular video game characters make an appearances in this movie, including but not limited to: M. Bison, Zangief, Ken, Ryu, Chun Li and Cammy from the Street Fighter (1987) Series; Q*bert (1982) and his cast of enemies; Pac-Man (1982) and the orange ghost Clyde; Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. (1985) series; and Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) and Dr. Eggman.
- The train station of Nice Land shows that the population is 224×256, the common resolution of an 8-Bit game.
- In the scene of Fix-It Felix Jr’s party, Ralph is enraged by Gene and smashes the cake. The cake splatter around the room and on Ralph resembles the shape of an alien in “Space Invaders”
- The guns used by the soldiers in Hero’s Duty make the same sound effects as the laser weapons seen in the opening scene of Terminator 2
- The graffiti in Game Central Station contains many inside jokes and references to famous video games. One says “Aerith Lives,” in reference to Final Fantasy VII (1997). Another says “All your base are belong to us,” from the infamously poor English translation of the game Zero Wing (1989).
- The Konami Code!
Wreck-It Ralph: I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.
King Candy: [puts on glasses] You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses would you?
[Ralph smacks the King with the glasses]
King Candy: You hit a guy, with glasses. That’s… that’s… Well played.
Sergeant Calhoun: Doomsday and armageddon just had a baby and it… is… ugly!
Sergeant Calhoun: The selfish man is like a mangy dog chasing a cautionary tail.
Wreck-It Ralph: What’s going on in this candy-coated heart of darkness?
Sergeant Calhoun: This is it, ladies! The kitten whispers and tickle fights end now!
Vanellope von Schweetz: I bet you really gotta watch where you step in a game called ‘Hero’s Doodie’! What did ya get the medal for? Wiping? I hope you washed your hands after you handled that medal!
Wreck-It Ralph: I don’t have time for this.
Vanellope von Schweetz: One more, one more. Why did the the hero flush the toilet? Say why.
Wreck-It Ralph: Why?
Vanellope von Schweetz: Because it was his… doodie!
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Toy Story
- Super Mario Bros.
Loved this movie the first time I saw it (in theaters, of course). I enjoy the fact that Ralph is not a typical hero. His heart is in the right place, but his methods aren’t. It must have been hard deciding on quotes for this; you could have used nothing but Calhoun quotes and still be funny. Nice work!
Yeah, I liked this movie, too (and, for the record, I also like the Tron movies). I realized that I didn’t actually have anything new to SAY about it, which is why I didn’t wind up reviewing it for the site, but I’m glad someone finally did.
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