When I saw the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph earlier this year I was instantly intrigued. As a gamer I don’t think about what happens when I turn off my Xbox, just as I hadn’t thought about the lives of my toys before watching Toy Story. In a way Wreck-It Ralph could be called Game Story. It turns out the games we play (and played) at the arcade were actually inhabited by the very game characters we control. One of them is Wreck-It Ralph, the arch nemesis of Fix-It Felix. Ralph is a Donkey Kong-like character who climbs on top of buildings to destroy it and to be thrown off at the end of the game. After years of being the bad guy (or as they say in bad guy therapy: “You may be a bad guy, but that doesn’t mean you are a bad guy.”) Ralph decides he has had enough.
One of the things I was curious about was the amount of references the makers of Wreck-It Ralph would put into their movie. It turns out there are quite a lot at the beginning of the movie. It is a virtual who’s-who of characters and as a gamer I am sure to go back and see which are represented. A really great trick in the animation is the way the 8-bit characters are animated. Their jerky motions are really great (though it is strange that Felix and Ralph move normally, hmmm). While there is a lot to see at the start the references start to fade in favor of something else: story and character. Wreck-It Ralph is a great movie that tells kids that everybody is meant to do what they are good at. If that means you are to be the bad guy, you should do it with all your heart. It is good to aspire to be better at what you do, but know what you are good at.
Well, with that said, this is in no way a preachy movie. The message is there, but never in the foreground. What is in the foreground is a finely animated adventure movie full of comedy, fast-paced action and insightful character drama. For instance, Ralph is helped along the way by a cute girly avatar called Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman. She wants to be a racer so bad, but because she has a glitch in her programming she isn’t allowed to do so. She has to overcome her handicap to become what she dreams of. Ralph and Vanellope strike up a friendship that will help them realize what’s out there for them. The same goes for Fix-It Felix (perfectly voiced by 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer). He has always been this good guy character, but he never realized what that meant to Ralph. Everybody gains a level of understanding about each other. Something a lot of people could learn something from.