Movie 52: Wreck-It Ralph

posterMichael Phelps of the Chicago Tribune said about Wreck-It Ralph:

“You’ll either love it or you’ll admire it, while wishing it would calm down and, I don’t know, maybe pick up a book for a while”

I think that is so true and unfortunately I fall into the latter category.  I want to like this movie because a lot of other people love it but it just doesn’t do anything for me.  I know, I know.  Don’t hate me.

The Production-

The idea behind Wreck-It Ralph is to combine Who Framed Roger Rabbit for video games and Toy Story in a traditional arcade video game world.

Naturally to make the movie they had to license properties from all kinds of video games like Sonic, Pacman, and Super Mario Brothers.  However, the main bulk of the movie is spent in new lands so for someone who knows nothing about video games most of these cameos did nothing to excite me. (unlike seeing Bugs Bunny and Mickey together in WFRR).

They created 4 main worlds or settings for the movie.  There’s Ralph’s game a traditional 80s arcade game, a train depot in between worlds in the power strip, a . halo =like game called Hero’s Duty and a massive section of the movie in Sugar Rush, a play on Sugar Crush (another game I’ve never played before).

These worlds are beautifully created but kind of like Treasure Planet once I got used to them,  they stopped being as spectacular.  I wish they had gone through a lot of games in rapid fire succession so you spent 10 minutes in one game, 10 in another instead of nearly an hour in Sugar Rush.

The power strip depot
The power strip depot

I kind of wish they had gone with songs and traditional Disney music.  It would be fun to see what they would come up with.  Instead, they went with a soundtrack featuring Owl City, AkB48, and others and it was completely unmemorable to me .

Wreck-It Ralph is directed by Rich Moore of Simpsons and Futurama fame and you can sense their influence but without near as many jokes.

The voicecast is good with John C. Reilly great as Ralph.  However, I am in the minority that is not a fan of Sarah Silverman.  I find her incredibly grating and annoying in this movie.

The Story-

The first 20 minutes of Wreck-It Ralph go quite quickly (the movie is too long. 101 minutes which is longer than the typical Disney film) .

We begin with Ralph who is the bad guy in an old 80s style arcade game.

fixitfelixjr530pxBut Ralph is fed up being the bad guy and even goes to a 12 step group to deal with his frustration.  I don’t know any of these games but it is a funny scene nonetheless.

self helpFinally on the anniversary of the game Ralph is slighted from the party and bolts. He is told at the party that he will never win a medal and be part of the team like Mr Fix-it is.  So his goal is to get a medal.

This is a little bit of a problem because he gets the medal very early on so the last hour of the movie is a series of delays to get back to his game and be crowned the hero.

But he starts out in a land called Hero’s Duty because he hears they give out medals.  He meets a hard talking fighter named Sergeant Calhoun voiced effectively by Jane Llynch (who must have had a blast finally not playing a comedic part)

Wreck-It-Ralph-Jane-LynchThe design is cool in Hero’s Duty but as a non-fan of these types of games it gets old quick.

Then they get to Sugar Rush and WAY too much time is spent in this Candyland world.  It is bright and colorful but after a few minutes I grew weary of the color scheme and especially of Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope von Schweetz.

maxresdefaultBasically Vanellope is a glitch and if she dies she will not be brought back in the next game.  This is why King Candy (a pretty good villain) has forbidden her from racing in the Sugar Rush race. She, like Ralph, is pushed to the outskirts and so they bond.  I feel like these interactions between Ralph and Vanellope take forever and the whole time I know exactly what is going to happen.  There is even that moment where the teammates misunderstand each other and storm off pouting.

The world is neat to look at but I fee like it isn’t that neat.  I’ve seen similar worlds in everything from My Little Pony to Care Bears to the Barbie movies.  And I just felt like the characters were so predictable.

Eventually we get the big race, a confrontation with the bad guy ala Ben Hur in Sugar Rush (although his secret did surprise me).  It turns out Vanellope is actually a princess and not a gliche and Ralph returns the hero.

cast
Unfortunately 7 of these characters have very brief screen time

Movie Review/Conclusion-

I suppose this movie is like Sword and the Stone- a movie everyone else seems to get but doesn’t do anything for me.  The animation is better than Sword in the Stone for sure but the story is predictable and nothing new to me.  There aren’t near enough jokes and some of them are lost on me, a non gamer.  We also get Sarah Silverman who drives me nuts.  I mean I love Fran Drescher but I don’t want her in an animated movie.  To me Silverman is equally shrill.  And I just think her ‘sweet little girl who belches’  routine gets old fast (they resort to the potty humor far too often in the movie).

I did enjoy the first 20 minutes and the premise has potential.  I wish they had spent time in more lands, zipping around like the doors in Monsters Inc.  Things get bogged down in Sugar Rush when a change of scenery could have kept me interested. Also, instead of introducing all these characters and then giving them one line I wish more of them were built up.  In Toy Story we feel a kinship with all the toys not just Woody and Buzz.  I didn’t get that type of character development in anyone but the 3 leads here.

That said, I can see why others enjoy it, especially if you are a big gamer you will understand a lot of the inside jokes (although my brother is huge into video games and he agrees Wreck-It Ralph is overrated).  I have a lazy eye so video games have never caught my interest.

I like the lead character of Ralph and John C. Reilly is very good.  Jane Llynch also does a good job.

So some things to like but overall just not my cup of tea I suppose.

(Like I said, don’t hate me!!)

In the end, it’s just not made for me and that’s ok. Not everything needs or should be made for my interest and tastes.  I can deal with that.

Overall Grade- C ( I have Sword in the Stone a C- so I’ll give this one higher)

32 thoughts on “Movie 52: Wreck-It Ralph

  1. I like it, despite not being a gamer either. I especially love how the animation is slightly adjusted, depending on the kind of computer game and character. And it is one of the few movies which actually has a twist I didn’t see coming…well, I had King Candy pegged as having an ulterior motive, but I didn’t guess his true identity at all.

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    1. Yeah that’s a good surprise. I liked that. I just think it would have been better like The Lego Movie with lots of different worlds, lots of jokes, instead most of the time it’s in hero or sugar crush. It’s not terrible but just doesnt engage me

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    1. That surprises me. I thought you would love it given your other tastes. So many people have it in their top 10 and it is cute and all but not my favorite.

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  2. I like this film a lot, but I agree with most (if not all) of your criticisms. Vanellope is very annoying, and took me a long while to get to (though she was still very annoying to me). There was way too much time spent in Sugar Rush, and I wanted to see more places as well. But I found it enjoyable (and I a not a gamer), and I liked the story. To each their own.

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    1. Yeah it’s not terrible but average. C grade worthy. I’m surprised because I feel like so many people love it. I thought I’d get a lot of backlash

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  3. This was definitely another great review. Yeah, I enjoyed it, but definitely not as much as say older films like Little Mermaid, Lion King, Tarzan, Princess & The Frog, or even Frozen (which I’ll be excited to hear your thoughts on that one). The worlds were great and the premise was creative, I’ll give it that. Still, it really doesn’t for me as much as most other Disney films. I agree with you giving this one a C. Now onto Frozen and Big Hero 6 once that one comes out three weeks from this Friday, eh?

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  4. I already told you how I feel about this movie but honestly I think our ratings are exactly reversed on this and Big Hero 6. In my opinion, Big Hero 6 is C and this is a solid A+. I loved it from the first time I saw it and watched the Paperman short before. That short took me back to the simple feeling of childhood before the movie even started with its elegantly simplistic story that makes us wish that only real life could be so uncomplicated.

    And I went into this movie just because I was watching many animated films at the time that I hadn’t seen (How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind, Monsters vs. Aliens, Winnie the Pooh) and I honestly expected to hate it. I hated the idea of Disney doing a video game movie. It seemed to have nothing to do with their roots and just be another failed experiment like Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I never grew up playing video games either but I did grow up playing arcade-style computer games with my sisters and I have played Pac-Man and Qbert. Even now I enjoy tracking down new computer games and obsess over playing them again and again even though I rarely do well (i.e. Black Ops Korean Conflict, This is the Only Level series, Robot Wants Puppy). So this movie seemed to be made directly for me. I loved all the cameos, even the ones I didn’t recognize (which were most). And it made me feel like being a little kid again.

    I didn’t mind Vanellope from the start because she reminded me of my little sister and something about her animation made her endearing despite how poorly she comes off at the beginning. But in my opinion the rudeness she exhibits towards Ralph comes off as a defense mechanism after we see the way she’s treated by the other racers. She has never been taught any better, and she does make great character growth through the film and genuinely bond with Ralph, and we see that she has changed when she forgives her bullies at the end and establishes a constitutional democracy.

    The scene where Ralph destroys the car he built for her is one of the most difficult to watch scenes in Disney history right under Triton’s destruction of Ariel’s human grotto, the scene that made my father so upset when we watched it as a child. Not to mention Calhoun’s “tragic backstory” reminds of Les Poissons in its almost jawdropping black comedy.

    I’m just going to copy my Netflix review of this movie to sum up my thoughts:
    “I consider myself to be a cynic on modern Disney. But more than that, as the years go by I find myself enjoying animated films less and less in general. It is not even necessarily that the animated films of today pale in comparison to the greats of the past – no, I have viewed many of the old favorites and found myself disillusioned with them, picking them apart analytically. It might have helped that I watched the excellent short The Paperman before this, but I was surprised at how much I was enjoying this film. I felt myself enthralled and enveloped in it, the simple joys of childhood returning to me for the 101 minutes that this film played out. I feel the movie more than holds up from a critical perspective, however. Many underrate it in fact, in calling it a video game movie. It is this that made me cautious to see it at first, feeling it was just another typical 2012 sell-out with none of the Disney spirit. I don’t play video games, but this film made me remember how much I love similar games on the Internet. The film lacks the unforgettable Alan Menken songs of the 90’s, sure, but so did 101 Dalmatians, and that’s still a classic. Even The Great Mouse Detective had few real toe-tappers, and I would certainly rank Wreck-It Ralph with those two. The story moves at a fine pace, consistently entertaining, with characters who are fun and easy to relate to. I found myself very interested to see how it would pan out. The film is no masterpiece, but I felt the Disney magic again and I would re-watch it in a heartbeat. I have yet to see Winnie the Pooh and Frozen, but I will have to get around to that very soon. Disney, keep up the good work.”

    I even bought the movie 2 days ago and watched it last night on a big-screen TV. I still enjoyed it from beginning to end, if anything better than my first viewing, and that’s rare for me.

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    1. That’s awesome. I don’t hate the movie and can totally see why people respond well to it. For me it spends too much time in Sugar Rush and I get a little restless. I wish it spent more time in lots of games and worlds, made it more exciting.

      But yeah I was not a fan of Vanellope but I can see your point and why you might like her.

      It’s not a movie I hate. I like it, just don’t love it like you. The cameos and video game mentions were fun but mostly lost on me. I liked Ralph but I feel it didnt have the heart of the 2 brothers and Baymax in Big Hero 6.

      But I’m glad you enjoy it and is a favorite. For me it’s in the middle of the Disney canon but I own it and enioy watching it. A movie doesnt have to be an A for me to enjoy it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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      1. Something funny I found about Big Hero 6 is that there were 2 female members of the team but they didn’t appear to ever speak to each other, yet the movie went out of its way to throw in a scene of the female nurse and the Callaghan’s daughter at the end exchanging words just to ensure the movie passed the Bechdel test.

        I also found it very noticeable how they kept playing the Never Say Die card. “Tadashi is gone!” “My daughter is… GONE!” etc. Look at Tale-Spin’s Bearly Alive (1990) for an epic subversion.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs4YTrFOT_w (at 6:09)

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      2. Ok. Now you are nitpicking. You didnt care for it. That’s fine. I think they just wanted a scene where the characters talked. There are no perfect movies. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite and it has huge plotholes. It’s all good. I enjoy the experience of Beauty and the Beast and Big Hero 6. I also enjoyed wreck it ralph too for the record just not as much as others. I’m not sure what else I can say?

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      3. There’s no need to be offended. Big Hero 6 was a good movie and I watched it again in the theater today so I could see the scene after the credits.

        Those were light observations more than nitpicking.

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      4. Ah ok. Sometimes hard to convey tone online so I read it wrong.
        I’m glad you enjoyed it at least a little.
        What’s so great about Disney is they really do have something for everyone and very few total misses. There are only 4 that I flat out wouldn’t want to watch again. I own Wreck-it Ralph so I do like it.

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      5. Fourth is The Rescuers for personal reasons since it upset me as a little girl. I recognize it has good qualities and isnt a terrible movie but have no desire to see it again

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  5. I also liked learning that Disney had planned a movie like this for a long time, but they just didn’t have the proper technology. I think Disney going to computer-animation was genuinely justifiable when we see how well it works in this movie. I’m not sure the movie would even work in 2-D. The theme of a “bad guy” trying to prove he is good and win a medal is an amusing play on the Disney theme, with an arcade game villain being used the perfect modern twist. I also liked King Candy being made to resemble Ed Wynn as there are times the movie did recall Alice in Wonderland in its bizarre setting and seeming break from the Disney norm, only to fall perfectly into place.

    The Disney logo turning into a Pac-Man game was a great touch, too.

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    1. Agree! All those things were very fun and I did like the villain and the reveal. Like I said I did like it just not as in love with it as others.

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  6. I love the animation on Fix-It Felix and his interactions with Calhoun, as well. He’s basically Mickey Mouse in an arcade game setting!

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    1. I really agree with Michael Phillips on Wreck-it Ralph “you’ll either love it or admire it’. I’m in the admire camp. You are in the love it. That’s great. I’m glad you found something you could really love and get excited about. That’s what I hope everyone experiences with art and especially Disney. I really did admire it and enjoy it just didn’t love it like so many.

      http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-01/entertainment/sc-mov-1030-wreck-it-ralph-20121101_1_vanellope-von-schweetz-fix-it-felix-jr-wreck-it-ralph

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  7. You know, a LOT of people I know were telling me how bad it was that Brave won the Best Animated Feature award over ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and how much it was a travesty, I got really excited for seeing the film when I saw it on Netflix. Looking at it for the first time since then, I’m still disappointed in it. I’m not a hardcore gamer so I don’t really get all the oldschool references; I do get most of the satire they’re going for in each little moment but overall I wasn’t drawn in. I really liked John C. Reilly and Jane Lynch, but Silverman was absolutely grating, I can’t stand her!! Worse still, I think I only laughed four times out of ten; the humour did not do a thing for me at all, and this is a film that’s being touted for it’s humour!!

    The first and final part of the third act were really well done and I really got behind Ralph, apart from the scene were he has to break the car because he was being lied to by the King. The villain reveal was cool, as was the story behind it, but honestly I hated how much King Candy was a rip-off of the Mad Hatter, it took me out every time. I wish I could share the enthusiasm the film’s fans have for it because really I was not thrilled by it, which is a shame because it did start out so well and just lost its way once we reached Sugar Rush.😦

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    1. I want to give you an internet hug! Someone that agrees with me on Wreck it Ralph. It’s fine. I dont hate it but to me it is average. I like the set up but like you the gamer jokes are lost on me and Sarah Silverman is so annoying!

      I just don’t understand why when you have all these games and worlds why spend so much time in a generic candyland world we’ve seen in other movies? It looked like a Care Bears or Strawberry Shortcake world and they could have been like the Lego Movie and zipped all over the place. The villain reveal was good but I agree he even sounds a little like the Mad Hatter.
      Along with Sword in the Stone I think this is an extremely overrated Disney. It’s not bad but a lot of people put it in their top 10 which I dont get. Oh well different tastes I guess.
      I agree though not funny enough like Lego was.

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      1. *Internet hug returned!!*

        I suppose I was kinda spoiled going into it because I actually did see The Lego Movie before re-watching it, and the more I think about the more I realize that the Lego Movie did the core concept much better and a million times funnier, if anything I kinda saw ‘Ralph’ as phoned in and not so special. Now while I don’t think ‘Sword in the Stone’ is overrated, but I do see why someone may see it as fairly lacking, meanwhile I’m still struggling to understand the huge appeal of this particular film outside the video game Easter Eggs. But even all that aside, it’s mostly stuff that felt a little too familiar and not done that great. Not bad, not quite good, just all right.

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  8. On my first viewing of this movie C would have been my grade too. But something on the second watch just clicked with me. Vanellope and Ralph both really grow as characters over time, starting to realize that thinking of others is really important.

    The animation is gorgeous throughout and just like Zootopia there are clever touches in almost every frame. For example, Belle and Jasmine can briefly be seen at Game Central Station. In Sugar Rush part of the cheering section says “assorted fans” because they’re made of candy.

    I’m not a fan of the final twenty minutes, what with Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush colliding. But the colorful animation and clever references outweigh any weaknesses the film has (even the potty humor was bearable after seeing parts of Shrek). I moved my grade up to A-. Curious to see what you think on the re-watch.

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