SGA Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

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Last week’s SGA movie, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, might have been designed overall to be a kid-friendly feature, but college kids, the little details are all for you.

One of a handful of computer-animated movies coming out of the official Walt Disney animated studios, Wreck-It Ralph stands out as one of the best so far, doubtless taking up a few foolproof, blockbuster tricks from its subsidiary, Pixar. Indeed, this particular movie appears to have traded in a fair number of the Disney animation standards for making something more Pixar-like. The nerdy, unlikely protagonist of Disney CGI past (see Chicken Little or Meet the Robinsons) is replaced by a two-ton reluctant antagonist a la Monster’s Inc.’s Sulley.

If Tangled made you pumped for more movies with sassy, goodhearted blondes, you’re going to get it decked in body armor and voiced by Jane Lynch, the only lady in show business who can make grown men laugh and cry like babies at the same time. Do you like talking animals? Sorry, wrong movie. How about Pacman? Welcome to Wreck-It Ralph!

The movie centers on Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), featured bad guy of an 80’s arcade game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., a game in which Ralph destroys an upscale apartment building while the player controls Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer), and repairs the damage. After thirty unrewarding years of being beaten by players, and being thrown off a roof day-in and day-out to boot, Ralph begins to tire of being treated as a two-bit citizen by the video game world. At the jeering suggestion of the game’s residents, Ralph sets out to prove his worth by winning a medal, a hero’s achievement in the video game world.

In doing so, Ralph bounces between his own game, a heavy duty first-person shooter captained by tough-minded, tragedy programmed Tamora Calhoun (Jane Lynch),  and finally a cavity-inducing kart-racing game called Sugar Rush, where the racers are anything but sweet. It’s here that Ralph meets a spastic, sassy, hair-rippingly annoying wannabe racer named Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who causes Ralph an amount of trouble matched only by the chaos his own departure from Fix-It Felix has wrought on the video game world.

Though the script may lack some originality, the display compensates with great imagination in the animation. Wreck-It Ralph is sleek, colorful, and splendid, filled with emotive character performances and exhilarating animated action sequences, full of smashing, crashing. and even a Diet Coke and Mentos volcanic eruption. Characters are extremely well-acted, with stand-out voice performances, especially from John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.

Silverman in particular is to be commended. Her character, who at the start had my eyeballs rolling to the back of my head with irritation, had totally won me over by the end. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch provide a good supporting cast, playing the character types they perfected on 30 Rock and Glee, respectively. Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame and Mindy Kaling from The Office also lend their voices to the film.

Wreck-It Ralph’s greatest appeal is its loving tribute to video games. The film is more than the hazy, ‘80s-drenched memories of the creator’s childhoods. It’s more than the obtuse insertion of video game staples of people who have never picked up a controller.   No, this was the labor of people who care about video games, and more importantly, know you care, too.

The younger kids may recognize Sonic the Hedgehog zipping around Game Central Station, but no six-year-old can appreciate the joy of Zero Wing lovers and haters alike when a piece of graffiti reading “All your base belong to us” is visible. Nobody else could appreciate the excitement of recognition when Sugar Rush’s programming is opened by the Konami Code. Even the bopping, blocky motion of the characters of Fix-It Felix reflects the limited animation of eight-bit video games of times past. Countless other character cameos and visual gags make this movie an amusing and enjoyable watch.

Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is a visually appealing, sweet adventure movie jampacked with video game humor and a surprising amount of candy jokes. Play again? Definitely.

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