Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #52: Wreck-It Ralph

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

 

Before we get into Wreck-It Ralph there’s something I want to say.
 
See this? This is Loki.
 
LokiAvengers_1314991333
 
He’s a lying, traitorous, sociopath who brought untold death and destruction on Earth and plotted on several occasions to murder his own foster brother and father.
 
The ladies of the internet love Loki. And you know what? I get that. He’s charming, he gets all the best lines, he’s got a tragic backstory and he loves his muddah. And he’s played by Tom Hiddleston, who’s a right bit of yum. Ladies of the internet? I get it.
 
See this? This is Turbo.
 
Turbotastic
Y’all are fuckin’ nuts.
 
***
 
I’ve mentioned before how Disney movies often take their sweet-ass time from conception to release (for example, the movie that eventually became Frozen was first conceived in 1937) and Wreck It Ralph is no exception. Disney first toyed with the idea of making a movie set in the world of video games (then titled High Score) all the way back in the 1980s, back when you could be forgiven for thinking that these new-fangled “video games” were just a passing fad that would soon be swept aside by the next big thing.
pogs

In hindsight, Disney dodged a bullet by not green-lighting POGS: The Movie.

 
“What?” I hear you cry (Mouse hears all) “Disney almost made a movie about video games thirty years ago.” Of course they did. This was eighties Disney. Desperate, starving, try-anything-to-seem-relevant Disney.
 
Make-a-pact-with-the-forces-of-pure-evil-for-a-chance-of-making-some-bank Disney Oh-God-what-were-they-thinking? Disney.

Make-a-pact-with-the-forces-of-pure-evil-for-a-chance-of-making-some-bank Disney
Oh-God-what-were-they-thinking? Disney. 

And frankly, I don’t think we missed out on anything. I’ve mentioned already how I feel that some movies in the canon were made in the wrong era. For example, I will eternally lament the fact that the Peter Pan we ended up with was the pastel-coloured, safe, stultifyingly conservative Restoration era movie we got and not the gorgeous, dark, wild, Tar and Sugar movie that might have been. Wreck-It Ralph is not one of those movies. Wreck-It Ralph is like a wizard. It was neither late, nor early. It arrived precisely when it needed to. Firstly there’s the animation. I’ve made my peace with the notion of CGI canon movies. They’re here to stay, they can be done very well and I just have to live with it. But while I would have loved to see a traditionally animated Frozen or Tangled I can’t say the same about Wreck-It Ralph. This movie needed to be in CGI because, duh, these are computer generated characters. A cel-animated Wreck-It Ralph would just feel wrong. But aside from that, the world of computer games is just such a deeper subject for exploration now than it was in the eighties. There is a culture and lore and mythos to be mined that just wasn’t there thirty years ago. The whole medium is a thousand times broader and more diverse, and in fact some of the very best stuff in this movie is seeing character from vastly different generations and genres of game reacting to each other.
But was the movie worth waiting thirty years for?
Yes. Yes it was. Let there be absolutely no mystery of suspense on that point.
But just for hoots and chuckles, let’s take a look at the film.
 

 
***
So the movie begins with Ralph (John C. Reilly) narrating the basic set up. He’s the villain character in an arcade game called Fix-It Felix Jnr that’s been a mainstay in the local video arcade since…
 classroom hands raised resized
 
Okay, see, long ago computers were a lot more primitive, and in fact it took one big cabinet the size of a man to run just one game. They were too big and bulky and expensive for most people’s homes, so when you wanted to play video games you had to go to an “arcade” and put a coin…
classroom hands raised resized
 
Alright, so people used to have to use metal coins and paper to tangibly represent value instead of using credit cards and direct debit. So you’d take these “coins” and go down to the arcade with your friends…
 
classroom hands raised resized
Friends. People with whom you share a relationship of mutual affection in the real world…
 classroom hands raised resized
The physical realm. Everything that’s not on the internet. The actual, y’know, the stuff…look, we’re getting off topic.
The opening sequence quickly and efficiently sets up the rules of Ralph’s world (the characters work in their own games during the day and are free to travel to other games during their off-hours). It also establishes the rules of Ralph’s own game. It’s a sort of Donkey Kong/Destruction Derby hybrid where Ralph has to wreck an expensive penthouse and the game’s hero, Fix-It Felix (John McBrayer) has to fix it with his golden hammer.
 
You know, Mel Brooks made a lot of movies satirising different genres. I’m talking about movies like Blazing Saddles (westerns), Young Frankenstein (Universal Horror) and Space Balls  (Star Wars). Space Balls has its fans, of course, but I don’t think anyone’s going to honestly claim that it’s even in the same league as the other two. The reason for that of course is that Mel Brooks absolutely adored westerns and the old horror movies and didn’t give too piping hot schmucks about Star Wars. To really make good comedy about something you have to know and love it inside and out. You need an eye for the little details that most people don’t even notice. Now, Wreck-It Ralph is not really a satire…I don’t think. But it does have satirical elements to it and they work so well because the guys making this are obviously gamers to the core. Everything about the way Fix-It Felix Jnr is presented to us feels completely authentic for a game of that era. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was actually a working Fix-It Felix Jnr cabinet somewhere.
And I am not surprised.

And I am not surprised.

So as the movie begins Ralph is attending Bad Anon, a support group for villain characters who feel overwhelmed by the pressures of being bad. This scene is packed with characters both famous and obscure like M. Bison from Street Fighter, Kano from Mortal Kombat and Doctor Robotnik from the Sonic the Hedgehog games.
 
Toad

“Don’t you mean “Eggman” Mouse?”

"Curse your insolence sir!"

“What’s that? You want me to blow up your house?

"What? No, I didn't say that..."

“What? No, I didn’t say that…”

 boom
 
Anyway, the meeting is being chaired by Clyde, one of the ghosts from Pac-Man which makes perfect sense when you think about it. He’s one of the oldest villains in computer games so naturally the others would look to him for guidance, and Pac-Man is one of the few games that has aged well enough that it could still realistically be raking in quarters thirty years after it was first installed. Clyde asks Ralph why he finally decided to come to the meeting after years of saying no, and Ralph admits that he’s feeling unfulfilled and is starting to wonder if he wasn’t meant for more. This causes the other bad guys to get really nervous, and M. Bison asks him to his face if he’s thinking about “going Turbo”? And sorry, Bison has a problem with going turbo!? Are you kidding me? That guy has not only gone turbo, he’s gone alpha, champion, hyper, turbo revival, turbo HD remix and “versus Marvel”. Is he being a hypocrite here?
 bison-ofcourse
 
Funny story. I tried not to make that joke. God in heaven help me, I really did.
 
Zangief, also from Street Fighter, pipes up and tells Ralph that just because he is a bad guy, doesn’t mean that he’s a bad guy. A lot of Street Fighter fans were annoyed by Zangief’s appearance here, because apparently in Street Fighter continuity Zangief’s not actually a villain and oh stop my sides…
 wonka
 
A despondent Ralph goes home through Game Central Station and we see a little why being a bad guy sucks in this world. Everyone’s afraid of him and he’s constantly getting hassled by electronic five-oh.
The see me rollin', they hatin'...

The see me rollin’, they hatin’…

 
In the station, Ralph sees Q*bert, who’s been made homeless since his game was unplugged. He gives him a cherry that he swiped from Pac-Man because there’s no little kids in trouble around here and we have to establish that Ralph is a Disney hero somehow.  Ralph finally gets back to his own game and sees that the other game characters are throwing a party to celebrate the game’s thirtieth year in the arcade. Outraged that he wasn’t invited (they invited that fat pill-popper Pac-Man for God’s sake), he makes his way up to the top floor of the penthouse.
 
Felix, feeling guilty, invites Ralph in much to the horror of the Nicelanders who live in the Penthouse, especially their leader, Gene.
Ralph and Gene get into an argument when Ralph sees the cake that they’ve made, which shows him at the bottom of the penthouse in a puddle of mud (ouch). He tries to put the little cake Ralph on top of the penthouse and also to give him Felix’s medal, but Gene angrily says that bad guys don’t win medals. Ralph says that he could too, and Gene says that if he ever wins a medal he’ll be allowed to live in the penthouse.
 
Later, Ralph is getting loaded at Tapper’s and pumping the barman for information on how to get a medal. Tapper lets him look through the lost and found and Ralph bumps into an inebriated space marine . The marine is from a newly installed first person shooter called Hero’s Duty and he’s already starting to crack under the pressure of constantly fighting an army of slavering alien insects and…wow this throws up some serious ethical considerations. I mean, it’s one thing for poor Ralph to have to get thrown off the top of a building over and over again, but what about the guys who have to do the really nasty shit? What about Silent Hill characters? How do they cope? Do they go insane?
 
Somehow, I don't think a support group is going to cut it.

Somehow, I don’t think a support group is going to cut it.

 
Also, I love how the marine keeps walking into a wall like his AI is faulty. Now, whenever I see a character glitching like that in a game I’m just going to assume he’s plastered. Anyway, the marine passes out and Ralph steals his armour and sneaks into Hero’s Duty to bag himself a medal. Here we meet Calhoun, the marines’ squad rookie-chewing commander voiced by the always fantastic Jane Lynch.
 
"You think fighting Cy-bigs is hard? Im living with hepatitis, THATS hard!"

“You think fighting Cy-bugs is hard? I’m living with hepatitis, THAT’S hard!”

"Mouse, did you just make a Glee joke?""

“Mouse, did you just make a Glee joke?”

"“I…I…I’m sorry. I don’t know how that happened.”

““I…I…I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

 
Anyway, the game begins when the player arrives. I actually really like that the movie defies stereotype and has both Calhoun and the player be female to show how the demographics of gaming are shifting and how more girls are starting to play…
 
"zzzzzzzz...hm?"

“zzzzzzzz…hm?”

“OH GOD I JUST MENTIONED GENDER AND VIDEO GAMES ON THE INTERNET EVERYONE DEFEND THE COMMENTS SECTION!
 Orcs
 
"Theres too many of them!"

“There’s too many of them!”

"Mouse? Mouse?! What do we do?!"

“Mouse? Mouse?! What do we do?!”

“Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the wind that was blowing?”

“Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the wind that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain. Like wind in the meadow.”

“Oh great. Mouse’s lost it. We’re goosed.”

“Oh great. Mouse’s lost it. We’re goosed.”

“Hold up dawg. Look. In the east.”

“Hold up dawg. Look. In the east.”

 
"The Unshaved Mouse stands alone."

“The Unshaved Mouse stands alone.”

"No. Not alone."

“No. Not alone.”

BROOOOOOOOOOM!

“BROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!”

“Thanks Walt.”

“Thanks Walt.”

"Heaven forfend you go five minuts without me pulling your tail out of the fire."

“Heaven forfend you go five minutes without me pulling your tail out of the fire.”

Alright, meanwhile, back in Fix it Felix Junior the game has started and without Ralph there to “Wreck It”, it’s around as challenging as any of the other games you kids play these days. Why back in my day we had three lives and that was it, none of this “regenerating health” nonsense and our escort missions lasted three days in the snow, uphill both ways.
 
And mushrooms knew their place, dammit.

And mushrooms knew their place, dammit.

 One of the kids tells the arcade owner that the machine’s busted, and he sticks a big red “out of order” sign on it. Realising that unless they get Ralph back the game will be unplugged, Felix goes looking for him and tracks him to Hero’s Duty where he meets up with Calhoun who he’s instantly smitten with. 
 
Meanwhile, Ralph has managed to climb a tower in the game and stolen a medal but he accidentally breaks an egg which releases a tiny Cy-bug. The Cy-bugs are the game’s villains and, unlike other video game characters, they’re not just guys doing a job. They’re actually vicious alien monsters and if it wasn’t for the fact that at the end of every game a beacon lights up and destroys them, they’d pretty quickly overrun Hero’s Duty. Calhoun also explains that they “become what they eat” which will have consequences later on both for the story, and your pants.
 
Your poor, poor pants.

Your poor, poor pants.

Anyway, Ralph gets attacked by the Cy-Bug and ends up stumbling into an escape pod (honestly this whole bit is a bit contrived for my liking) and he blasts out of the game, into Game Central and crashes into another game called Sugar Rush, a Mario-kart esque racing game set in a world of sweets and chocolate not to be confused with a certain other game.
One more invite, I swear to God...

One more invite, I swear to God…

The Cy-bug seemingly drowns in a pool of pink goo but Ralph discovers that his medal is missing. It’s here that me meets Vanellope voiced by Sarah Silverman and how you feel about that will really decide whether this character is going to be a fun time for you. Some people love her. Some can’t stand her. In the beginning I found her annoying but not to a deal-breaking degree, and as the movie goes on she became a lot more sympathetic to me. Anyway, Vanellope runs off with the medal (thinking it’s a gold coin) and Ralph chases after her.

 
Back in Game Central, Calhoun tells Felix that the Cy-Bug will devour Sugar Rush and then spread to the rest of the arcade in they don’t stop it. Felix asks Calhoun’s lieutenant why she’s always so “Jane Lynchy” and he explains that it’s because she was programmed with a tragic backstory, the one day she didn’t do a perimeter check was her wedding day, and her fiancee was killed by a Cy-Bug.
"Tch. Rookie mistake."

“Tch. Rookie mistake.”

In Sugar Rush, the game characters are holding a race to choose the roster for the next day’s gaming. The game is ruled by King Candy (Alan Tudyk, doing an absolutely amazing impression of the late, great Ed Wynne) with assistance from his major-domo, Sour Bill. We also meet Taffyta Muttonfudge (Mindy Kahling) a name that sounds absolutely filthy but is not. So all the racers throw their coins in a big trophy to register and Vanellope throws in Ralph’s medal. Everyone freaks out when they realise what she’s done because Vanellope is “a glitch”, an error in the programme that shouldn’t exist. Ralph, who’s gotten covered in sweets and chocolate and frosting and is basically just now diabetes in the form of a man, crashes the race looking for his medal and gets mistaken for a monster. Vanellope escapes in the confusion and the Candyland cops (two donuts, naturally) start to beat the filling out of him.

Sadly, after Ferguson all I can think is "What restrained cops."

Okay, I can buy that they’re talking donuts. But police officers engaging in this kind of brutality? Now that’s just silly.

Ralph is brought before King Candy, who recognises him even though Ralph has apparently never met him before (hmmmmmmmmm) and Ralph explains that he won a medal in Hero’s Duty and just wants it back. Candy warns him against “going Turbo” (hmmmmmmmmmmm) and says that the medal is gone and will only come back after it’s been awarded to the winner. He tells the cops to sling Ralph’s ass back on the next train to his own game but Ralph gives them the slip and goes on the run.  He comes across Vanellope being bullied by Taffyta and the other racers who are wrecking her car. Ralph scares them off and then bitches at Vanellope for stealing his coin. She says that she only borrowed the medal and was totally going to return it to him after she won the race (cough cough bullshit cough cough). With her car wrecked, though, it looks like she’s not going to win and Ralph’s not going to get his medal back, so she manages to coax Ralph into helping her make a new car.

Felix and Calhoun find Ralph’s crashed escape pod and go looking for him and the Cy-bug. Felix says he’d never ave imagined that Ralph would go Turbo and Calhoun says she’s never heard that expression. So he explains that long ago there was a game called Turbo Time who’s main character was legendary dreamboat Turbo.

Hes so dreamy ?)

Honestly, I haven’t been so baffled by a cartoon character’s popularity with the ladies since Justin Bieber.

But one day a new racing game was installed and Turbo just couldn’t handle being the Woody to someone else’s Buzz Lightyear and invaded the other game causing both it and his own game to crash and be unplugged. While explaining this, Felix and Calhoun run afoul of a threat almost as insidious as the Cy-Bugs; Product Placement!

Disney, how can you be this desperate for money? You own LITERALLY MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD.

Disney, how can you be this desperate for money? You own LITERALLY MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD.

Yeah, I actually have to call a mark against this movie; the fucking product placement. I don’t mean all the licencesd characters, that’s fine. It makes sense for them to be there and they’re all used well for the most part. But stuff like this ad for Nesquik and the Subway logo plastered over half the arcade gets grating after a while. Anyway, they get out of the pit of delicious, chocolately Nesquik (hey, a mouse has to eat) by attracting Laffy Taffy by making it laff, er, laugh. And they do that by Calhoun beating seven shades of sprite out of Felix because nothing is funnier than domestic abuse apparently. Oh, by the way, I had no idea what Laffy Taffy was and I had to look it up. 

Okay. That looks like a strip of congealed vomit.

Okay. That looks like a strip of congealed vomit.

Vanellope and Ralph break into a bakery and succeed in building Vanellope a car with an working engine and everything, King Candy arrives with the fuzz and Ralph tells Vanellope to floor it. Slight problem: She doesn’t actually know how to drive.

Alice Facepalm

They escape through the power of Ralph’s big gorilla hands and hide out in Vanellope’s secret hideaway, an unfinished level with an underground lake of cola directly under dangling stallactites of Mentos which I’m sure will play no role in resolving the final conflict of this film.
Alright, so if Ralph is going to get his medal back that means Vanellope is going to have to win the race which means she’s going to have to learn how to drive and even Rocky had a montage let’s go!
The montage works and Vanellope clealry has some natural skills as a driver but she keeps glitching and teleporting from place to place like Nightcrawler which is a teeny bit of a liability when you’re driving something hurtling around a track at the speed of sound but she promises Ralph she’ll get it under control.
 
Meanwhile, Felix and Calhoun are falling for each other but then he makes the mistake of calling her a “dynamite gal” which was, as we see in flashback, were the only two words her fiancee was actually capable of speaking (their entire courtship must have been like dating a Groot.). She tells him to screw off and, broken hearted, he goes looking for Ralph at King Candy’s castle and, when Sour Bill hears that he’s from the same game as Ralph, gets locked up in the fungeon (the fun dungeon, where the puns are part of the torture).
 
Vanellope and Ralph are all set to go the race when she runs back to get something for him, leaving him alone with the car. King Candy then drives up and now things take a turn I really was not expecting. I’ll be honest, the very first time I saw this movie it caught me in a bad mood and I just wasn’t that into it. I didn’t really care if Vanellope won the race, I didn’t care about Ralph getting the medal and I was just about ready to write this off as a noble failure on Disney’s part. It’s right around here that the slapped me right in the balls grabbed me by the neck and hissed into my face “Oh I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?” Candy tells Ralph why he’s been trying so hard to stop Vanellope from racing. Because if the players see her glitching, they’ll think the game is broken and it’ll be unplugged. All the Candy Landers will be homeless, but even worse, Vanellope will not be able to leave the game and will actually die. Kind Candy has been trying to literally save her life. He tells Ralph that she’s the only one who she’ll listen to and that he has to convince her not to race. He then gives Ralph the medal and drives off.
Vanellope comes back and gives Ralph a medal that she made for him herself.
 
"I made it for you. Yknow, just in case you were going to destroy my dreams so youd feel super guilty."

“Good thing you’re not planning on destroying my dreams otherwise this would be bitterly ironic in the extreme, huh Ralph?”

As I’ve explained in previous reviews I’ve decided to call this era of Disney movies “The Redemption Era”, because it’s here that we see Disney reassessing the lessons and morals they’ve been teaching kids for the past three quarters of a century. So how does Wreck-It Ralph fit into that? Disney movies tend to have a very black and white morality. The good guys are good, the bad guys wear black and cackle and turn into giant monsters. In real life of course, it’s rarely that simple.
 
That time when Hitler turned into a giant octopus notwithstanding.

That time when Hitler turned into a giant octopus notwithstanding.

In real life, sometimes good people have to do bad things. In real life, sometimes you have to hurt the ones you love. You may have to break off a relationship with someone who loves you because you know that it’s not good for either of you. You have to lock someone in a room until whatever shit they’ve put inside themselves has worked it’s way through. Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy.
Now, I’m not saying that we’ve never seen good characters do bad things in Disney movies before. Lilo and Stitch had Cobra Bubbles and of course you had Triton trashing Ariel’s treasure room in Little Mermaid. But Bubbles was a secondary character and Triton was acting more out of irrational rage than anything. Wreck-It Ralph puts our hero front and centre and says to its audience “Ralph is about to do something terrible. And he is absolutely right to do it.”
And we have never had that before.
 
I didn’t put the scene of Ralph wrecking the car on my list of tear-jerking moments because I didn’t cry watching this. I just watched in slack-jawed horror. It’s really, really tough going guys. If you haven’t seen the movie then it must sound ridiculous. Yes, this is a scene where a big gorilla looking guy smashes a car made out of sweets but Christ it’s rough. The combination of Vannellope’s desperate screams and the sheer violence of it…
 
Just…Jesus.
 
 Alright, so Vanellope runs off in tears and Ralph takes his medal and goes home to find that Fix it Felix Jnr is now abandoned with the exception of Gene. Gene gives Ralph the key to the penthouse and tells him that the game is going to be unplugged tomorrow. Ralph hurls his medal at the screen in answer which causes the “Out of Order” sign to slip, and Ralph sees the rest of the arcade. And the Sugar Rush cabinet. Which has Vanellope’s cute little punum plastered all over it and what the hell?! Ralph realises that he’s been played for a sucker and heads back to Sugar Rush and ambushes Sour Bill. King Candy’s little eminence vert plays dumb but after Ralph threatens to see how many licks it takes to get to his centre and my God how did they get that into a kid’s movie? Sour Bill confesses and tells Ralph she was originally a racer but that King Candy tried to delete her code and is trying to stop her racing because if she crosses the finish line the game will reset and she won’t be a glitch anymore. That’s right! King Candy is actually the villain!
 
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Now, given everything I’ve said about how ground breaking the movie is for showing us an actual moral dilemma, is it a cheat to have King Candy be the villain and for it to be perfectly safe for Vanellope to race? Yes. A little. It’s kind of a cheat. But I can forgive it for two reasons, one, without it, the movie just stops. And two, even if it turns out that he was lied to, Ralph still did the right thing for the right reasons given the information he had at the time. So Ralph breaks into the fungeon to rescue Vanellope and Felix. Apologies are made, friendships repaired and cars fixed, moving on.
 
Alright, so the race starts and Vanellope quickly starts overtaking the other drives until finally she and King Candy are neck and neck. But as Ralph and Felix watch the race on the big screen, Calhoun arrives and slugs Ralph right in the face and tells him that he’s just doomed this entire game. The Cy-Bugs burst through the chewy caramel mantle and start devouring everything in sight and Calhoun tries to hold them off while the Candylanders run for the exit.
 
On the racetrack through, Candy has had enough and is just trying to make Vanellope crash. As they battle she glitches and this causes him to revert to his true form. Because, you see King Candy is actually Turbo!
 
 
Oh, on a side note, I never knew before what movie the dramatic chipmunk music comes from until my wife and I sat down to watch Young Frankenstein and spent the entire runtime making chipmunk faces at each other. It was, no lie, the best day.
 
Vanellope is able to control her glitching enough to escape and Candy/Turbo gets eaten by a Cy-Bug. It looks like it’s all gravy but then Vanellope crashes yards from the finish line when Cy-Bugs burst up through the road (funny, that’s how I failed my driving test).  The bugs then eat the finish line so Ralph, Felix and Vanellope have no choice but to run for the exit. Vanellope can’t pass through and she tells Ralph to leave without her. But Ralph overhears Calhoun saying that without a beacon the Cy-Bugs can’t be stopped and that gives him an idea. He steals Calhoun’s hoverboard and makes it to the top of the cola mountain, hoping to make the Mentos fall into the lake of cola and create a beacon but is stopped by OH SWEET GOD IN HEAVEN!!!
 
Stuff of nightmares
"I heard screaming whats going...HOLY FUCK!"

“I heard screaming whats going…HOLY FUCK!”

"Hey, whats all the noise about...JESUS!"

“Hey, whats all the noise about…JESUS!”

"Hey, whats all the noise about...JESUS!"

“What’s everyone looking at OH THAT SHIT AIN’T RIGHT!”

So Disney felt that King Candy wasn’t an imposing enough threat for the final showdown so they decided to have him get transformed into a Cy-Bug which is kind of like solving the problem that the room is a little stuffy by driving your car through the wall. Screenshots don’t actually do the horror justice because it’s the way he moves that’s so incredibly creepy. Like a scuttling, clattering centipede with a clown head bobbing around…eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeurrrrghh. It’s like they found a way to film my worst nightmares. Candy then flies Ralph way up high so he can watch Vanellope getting eaten alive by Cy-Bugs (when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are) and Ralph realises what he has to do.
“It’s game over for both of you.” Candy hisses.
“No.” says Ralph “Just for me.”
And Ralph breaks Candy’s grip and falls down towards the waiting earth, holding the medal Vanellope made for him and calling out the Bad-Anon affirmation. I’m bad. And that’s good. I will never be good. And that’s not bad. Because’s there’s no one I’d rather be, than me.
 
It’s…fantastic. Just beautiful. A perfect, perfect end for this character’s arc, a totally satisfying sacrifice that brings Ralph’s story to a close in a perfect, tragic yet triumphant oh what the hell?!
 
"I know, Im as shocked as you are."

“I know, I’m as shocked as you are.”

Right, so at the last second Vanellope glitches in….somehow….driving a car that hasn’t been eaten by the Cy-Bugs….because reasons…and rescues Ralph just at the last minute.
 
Ah, I’m probably being unrealistic There’s no way Disney would actually let their main character die it just feels a little cheap given how beautifully the stage was set for a noble sacrifice. Ah well.
 
So the cola lake explodes which creates a tunnel of fire (man all those YouTube videos were full of shit) and this draws the Cy-Bugs in, including Candy who burns to death because fire is the cleanser. Fire is the cleanser.
 
Felix fixes the racetrack and Vanelloppe crosses it which causes the game to reset. Vanellope is now revealed to be Queen Vanellope, ruler of Candy Land. Taffyta and the other racers apologise for the way they treated her and Vanellope says that her first royal decree is that everyone who was mean to her is to be put to death.
Well shit, I didnt realise this was an origin story.

Well shit, I didn’t realise this was an origin story.

She’s joking, of course, and instead declares a parliamentary democracy which I’m sure is going to go down so well with all the other game rulers (seriously, Mushroom Kingdom special forces are probably plotting her assassination as we speak) and Ralph says goodbye and heads back to his own game.

Happy endings all round: Calhoun and Felix get married, Q*Bert and his gang are allowed to join Felix Felix Jnr, Vanellope gets to race and they all live happily ever after.

bAD ENOUGH DUDE

***
To say that Wreck-It Ralph is the best video game movie ever made is certainly true but doesn’t really do the movie justice when you consider that its competition ranges all the way from the simply mediocre (hello, Prince of Persia) to some of the very worst films ever made (guten tag, Herr Boll). This movie represents Disney stepping out of its comfort zone and discovering that, hey, some of these other zones are pretty darn comfortable too. It marries good old fashioned Disney heart with a modern snarky wit like a plucky little handyman marrying a gun toting blonde space marine. The movie was a big box-office hit, now ranking as the fifth most successful of all the canon movies, and getting a healthy dose of critical love too. It’s also become something like a sacred text for gamers, in the same way that Star Trek fans have embraced Galaxy Quest. Put it on your “Must See” list.
 
Scoring
 
 
Animation: 17/20
 
Bright and colourful, nice character designs and great textures.
 
Leads: 16/20
 
He’s great. And that’s good. He will never be bad. And that’s not bad.
 
Villain: 17/20
 
Wow, who would have guessed that such a seemingly nice character would turn out to be the villain? Well, let me tell you, Disney aren’t going to full me with that trick again.
 
Supporting Characters: 17/20
 
Both the licenced characters and the original creations are used to excellent effect. Felix in particular is adorable, and Calhoun sure is a dynamite gal. Dynamite gal. Dynamite gal.
 
Music: 14/20
 
Someone on the IMDB boards went a strange shade of purple because I only gave Tangled 14/20 on music. To be clear, 14 is not a bad score at all. It’s like the animation, scored on a very, very steep curve.
 
FINAL SCORE: 81%
 
NEXT UPDATE: 09 October 2014
 
NEXT TIME: Ah screw it. Let’s sprint for the finish line.
 
 
Wanna build a snowman?

Wanna build a snowman?

120 comments

  1. “The physical realm. Everything that’s not on the internet.”
    (gasp) the real world exists!
    This is an amazing movie, and I agree with you on most of the points.
    I heard there is some deep symbolism in the medal (selfish ambition), while Vanellope’s medal is selflessness.

  2. Great review Mouse! I didn’t see this film in theaters, but I did watch it online a while ago and I enjoyed it. As much as I like traditional animation and wish there would be more of it in movies (which unfortunately won’t), I agree that it made sense that this movie was done in CGI. 2D wouldn’t have fit the video game theme at all.

    Well, it is time. I can already hear, in preparation for your Frozen review, knuckles cracking, fingers flexing, and the chants of “Take Frozen down!” and “Down with Frozen!”. Because I know anti-Frozen people will most swarm the comments section and the whole place will be a war zone. But really, everyone, all your attention will be on me, because I will say something EVERYONE, fans and critics of the movie alike, will pounce on me for and completely disagree with me on. And no, it’s nothing like “Elsa is a lesbian” or “I like Elsanna (Elsa x Anna pairing, which I don’t like).

    I hope you’re ready for the comment war, Mouse. Are you?

  3. Awesome Review, Mouse! I really wasn’t in a good mood today, but you with all your references to The Lord Of The Rings cheered me up. 😀

  4. Great review! You added a new word to my vocab: “Forfend”.

    When I first saw this film, I was extremely annoyed by Vanellope. The second time I watched it, I was less annoyed.

    Glad we’re finally getting to ‘Frozen’. When did you start this blog again?

  5. YAY FROZEN!!!!!!!!!!
    Does anyone understand Street Fighter? Was it made to be understood? I thought it was like Mortal Kombat, since the games first installment, everything was rewritten with every subsequent release that you have to talk about individual characters from specific games when talking about their backstory.
    On a side note, if it weren’t for my brother I wouldn’t know any thing about the history of games. First game I played was Gran Turismo and proved to my little brother that girls do make good drivers, sparking our weekly wars.
    Cool thought, but did anyone else have good memories about the games they played when they were kids? Gran Turismo, Gran Turismo 2, Warcraft 2, Metal Gear Solid, and Tomb Raider?

    1. Well, I only play two games anymore. I’m a fan of the stealth genre, but game’s today just don’t give me that same feel that MGS did. I do play Minecraft, mainly because I like to build things and tend to a farm, even if it is only blocks, and Skyrim, because well, Skyrim.

  6. OK, Mouse. Get ready for the longest post you’ll ever see me make on this blog.

    The year is 2012. The most recent Canon movie I had seen in theaters was Atlantis: The Lost Empire (hey, I did try to help that movie!), although I had also seen Lilo & Stitch after it came to video. I hadn’t seen many Disney movies at this point. Just some of the 90s stuff and assorted older and newer movies. I also wasn’t that big on movies in general. Sure, I liked to watch them, but I wasn’t really seeking many “classics” out. I was just going about my life. Then I decided to see this movie in theaters because of “lol vidjagayms.” I had no idea what I was in for. I’ll just sum up the important parts for you.

    I instantly fell in love with the game world(s) they had created. I could feel creativity seeping out of every location. The fact that they were able to make such vibrant worlds feel so alive still amazes me.

    The scene where Ralph crushed Vanellope’s car made a single tear roll down my face. OK, not really, but it seriously got me to almost cry. It was so painful to watch that the first time through because I had no idea what was going to happen next.

    When King Candy was revealed to be Turbo, I yelled “HOLY SHIT!” Seriously, I yelled profanities in the theater of a kid’s movie. I did NOT see that twist coming at ALL.

    The ending showing Ralph’s better life made me feel good. But my favorite part is when Ralph says “Turns out I don’t need a medal to tell me I’m a good guy. Because if that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?” as Vanellope waves at Ralph through the game screens. It gave me a big ol’ smile, and it still makes me smile every time.

    That’s when I knew Disney was back. Sure, later I’d see that (in my opinion) they never really stopped making good movies (with one or two bad ones, as well), but here is where my attention was peaked. Soon I became interested in the Disney Canon as a whole, and wanted to watch every movie. A few months later, that became a possibility, so I spent summer of 2013 watching every movie in the Canon and learning about its history. I felt like I knew Disney better after seeing everything they had to offer (at the time). Not only that, but I saw Frozen in theaters, and I’m going to see Big Hero 6, Zootopia and whatever else in theaters.

    But I figured, why stop there? I remembered that Disney and Pixar aren’t the only ones to make animated movies. So I did a marathon of both the Dreamworks animated movies and the Studio Ghibli movies (I had already done a Pixar stint a couple of years ago so I was caught up with them). By the end of both, I had found some new favorites, like The Prince of Egypt and Whisper of the Heart. I’m still looking for popular/commended animated movies to see.

    Then I again thought, why stop there? I began to pay more attention to movies in general. Not only did I start going to the theaters more, I began looking for old movies to watch. And again, I found many new favorites to cherish.

    Long story short, Wreck-It Ralph is my favorite Disney movie, favorite animated movie, and it made me pay more attention to what movies I see in general.

    1. ” I’m still looking for popular/commended animated movies to see.”
      Watch the Don Bluth films especially the first four. “Secret of NIMH” (a wonderful dark story that keeps interest with every second), “An American Tail” the film that rejuvinated animation, has the best songs of any movie, and it has plently of symbolism to analyze), “The Land Before Time” (what Ralph is to you Time is for me, and it would take a pst twice the size of yours to say how wonderful Time is), and “All Dogs go to Heaven” (the film that gave brought me to my Lord.)
      I would also suggest “Balto,” Ralph Bashki’s “Lord of the Rings” (to laugth at how bad it is), and “a Goofy Movie.”

      1. I’ve seen all of them. I liked The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, Balto and A Goofy Movie. An American Tail is OK, and I disliked Lord of the Rings and All Dogs Go To Heaven.

        Got anything else for me?

      2. You know, upon rewatch I wasn’t really impressed with Secret of NIMH. Mainly because Jonathan has no reason to exist (he does literally nothing to advance the plot iirc), and because it relies so heavily on atmosphere that the plot gets a light touch and makes a lot of it seem contrived. :\

        Also: the open air will kill Timmy, but his home being dropped, and sinking, into mud causes nary an ill effect. >.>

      3. He already did An American Tail when he entered the twisted realm of the Bluthverse. He should also review the other stop-motions (he did Nightmare and Coraline).

      4. “Rock A Doodle”?! Oh. Oh, Mouse. I . . . *fights back tears of disappointment*

        I’m going to say I disagree and leave it at that. There are a few reasons the Nostalgia Critic beat that movie down. I agree with them. (Not in the least because the premise is based on a contradiction.)

        “Anastasia” was pretty good. If you can overlook the fact that they took a real-life, coldblooded execution and turned it into a fairy tale, it’s rather enjoyable. . . . that comes across as much snarkier than I meant it to.

      1. Not only have I seen Mask of the Phantasm, I’ve seen Return of the Joker, SubZero, Under the Red Hood, Year One, The Dark Knight Returns (both parts), Assault on Arkham and Son of Batman.

    2. I would recommend Ice Age from Blue Sky studios, as of now for me, it’s their only really great film, the sequels aren’t terrible, their just kind of forgettable and bland. Rango is also pretty fun if you’re into Westerns.

      1. Ice Age is pretty good, but I disagree with it being Blue Sky’s only great movie. I really enjoyed Rio for some reason.

        Rango is OK.

  7. I quite love this film, I’m into video games, so of course, if it has great characters, good animation, and just has a fun enjoyable world to experience, it’s definitely a great movie in my book and Ralph is easily one of the canon’s most interesting and layered leading characters. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard for the film is Ralph spends too much time in one or two video game worlds and never “game jumps” as the marketing implied, I think that’s valid, but some people are using that as legitimate criticism, which I think is a bit unfair, as if they complaining about that, then why isn’t everyone complaining that in Toy Story 1 Woody and Buzz never go to a toy store or a preschool until the sequels, this movie, like Toy Story, is about the characters and the creativity, not whether Buzz is going to win in a fight with a G.I. Joe. speaking of Toy Story, do you agree with people that say this movie is Toy Story for a new generation? Yeah, it’s probably not as good as Toy Story, but I can see the comparison, what do think?

    1. I don’t think the game jumping criticism is fair. It uses the settings it needs to tell the story, no more no less. Anything else would just have been fan service. Not quite as good as Toy Story but damn close.

  8. Funny, seeing it for the first time, it never crossed my mind that Ralph could die. It was the opposite for Frozen as I couldn’t think of a way Disney could rescind Anna’s “death” (and I silently applauded them for having such courage) but when they did, I stood up and cheered right there in the theater and declared it an awesome, ballsy move all the same.

  9. “Honestly, I haven’t been so baffled by a cartoon character’s popularity with the ladies since Justin Bieber.”
    Sigh. You think that’s bad? Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls is a psychotic one-eyed triangle, and yet the first thing that comes up when I search his name is “Bill Cipher x Reader” -Shudders-

      1. “The Time Traveler’s Pig” is also a great one, and “Fight Fighters” rivals Wreck-It Ralph with some of the most clever video game references ever.

  10. Anyway, moving on to the topic at hand, Wreck-it Ralph is my favorite movie in the Disney Canon. It’s just a perfect marriage of great characters and story, humor and action, all within the incredibly imaginative video-game worlds. I’m a soft-core gamer (I love videogames and the culture surrounding them, but I don’t have the time or money to play much anymore) so this movie had me really excited even before it came out. It really impressed me with its characters and story though.
    King Candy/Turbo is an interesting and clever villain who totally had me convinced that he had Sugar Rush’s best interests at heart at first. The reveal that he’s Turbo is the kind of twist that totally caught me off guard the first time but made perfect sense in retrospect.
    And the bit where Ralph had to destroy Vanellope’s car! It was so rough I couldn’t watch it after a few seconds and had to hide my face in my hands while I was crying.
    But even with all these heavy emotional bits, it’s still one of the funniest movies in the DAC! I LOVE Calhoun’s backstory, and I think it’s one of the funniest things ever. First of all, just the phrase “She was programmed with the most tragic backstory ever.” is hilarious, especially since the guy says it so matter-of-factly. The fact that they’re always wearing their armour throughout their courtship is freakin’ hilarious, and it’s just set up to be the most over-the-top tragic loss is great dark humor. The best part is when she pulls a huge gattling gun out from under her wedding dress. I laugh so hard every time.
    So yeah, favorite movie in the canon, would have been my favorite movie of 2012 if it hadn’t been up against Avengers.

  11. Great review Mouse, love the LOTR’s references in there.

    Honestly, this movie didn’t do too much for me. I liked it just fine, but it didn’t really grab me or anything. Which is weird, because I’m pretty squarely in the core demographic for the movie. It was a film that I was expecting to really really enjoy because I love Disney (duh) and while I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore gamer, I am certainly an avid one (was praying the whole time for Link to show up, would have lost my mind). And I love most of the actors in the movie too, John C Reilly, Alan Tudyk, and Jack McBrayer are all great. So it was a Disney movie (I love those) about videogames (which I love), and starring some people that I really like, I was excited!

    But the thing is, I can’t really pinpoint why I didn’t like it more. There were a couple moments that I thought were really funny (“Thanks Satan”) and I did like the story and characters well enough. There was just nothing that really stood out to me. I can’t think of too many other movies that I can’t really think of anything that’s wrong with them but feel just lukewarm about. It’s an oddity in my film taste. Maybe I’ll watch it again soon and it will be better the second time

  12. How do you do it? When I first watched Wreck-It Ralph, I remember walking away feeling a little disappointed. And yet you’ve somehow managed to show me that I’m completely wrong. This movie is awesome! Thank you for showing me why. 🙂

  13. I am not a gamer. I know exactly enough about video games that I was able to identify half of the characters in Ralph’s support group. Going into the movie I was worried that it might be overloaded with references to a degree that I would have been trouble to follow the plot. But aside from me thinking for half of the movie that “pulling a turbo” is some sort of gamer slang, it was simply a really good story. There is only one thing which kind of bothers me: I wish the scenes in the Arcade were live-action. (has there every been a CGI-animation/live action mixed movie?)
    Well, only two left to go (you’ll do Big Hero 6 too, right?). And then? Pixar after all? Don Bluth? DreamWorks? Stop-Motion Animation in general?

  14. Nice review. Although I’m not much of a gamer, when I went to see this movie with my brother, I loved it. It was commercial, it was full of reference jokes and toilet humour, but there was something just so appealing about it – something that made it better than the sum of its parts. The characters and story are the elements that really shine, but I also liked the way every… game world?… was visually so distinct, even in the way its inhabitants moved.

  15. I love this movie so, so much. I saw it after Frozen, and the twist here really outshines the twist there (it actually had rational thought put into it. Frozen just felt like Let It Go happened and Elsa couldn’t be the villain and the villain needed to be an established character and the Duke wasn’t nearly threatening enough to pull it off so a complete character change was in order. But I digress).
    My biggest complain about this movie is the lack of video games represented here. Ask a kid to name 5 popular video game aimed at that demographic. Mario, Sonic, Pokemon, Pac Man, Zelda. Notice something about that list? 3 Nintendo games. Hell, you made like 4 Nintendo references just in this review. No Nintendo characters being included whatsoever is leaving out a very big chunk of kids video game history, especially modern. Would it be outrageous to see Mario plumbing in the bar tapper scene, or Pikachu running at literally any point in the movie for an A-list sight gag? I’m sure that characters like Q*Bert came a lot cheaper, but you could’ve put that Subway money to good use.
    The product placement I was eh about. If the product was part of a joke, like the guards chanting “O-re-o”, that’s fine. If it doesn’t serve a purpose to anything but is still in a prominent screen position, that’s product placement. Not sure how I feel about Nesquiksand, because while it did serve for a pun the real logo was shown.

    1. Mario was not included because they weren’t able to think if a way to include him which wasn’t gimmicky. Adding Pikachu would have most likely been a copyright mess because he is more than just a game character.
      Though it would have been very funny if at one point a certain character turned up saying “listen!” just to get swatted away by Ralph in his frustration…well, perhaps next time.

      1. I usually feel the same, but it would be a shame not to explore the video world further. What I would like is less a sequel, but the story of another invented Video game character, which plays in the same realm and who might stumble over the characters we already know. Kind of like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    2. Since the movie takes place in an arcade they could only include games that have had arcade versions. So it makes sense to not see Pokemon, Zelda and such.

      But I’m not sure where the Metal Gear “!” and “Areith Lives” were doing there.

    3. Eh, I had a pretty good idea on what the twist was going to be in Wreck-it Ralph., though the (awesome) twist in Frozen, I never saw it coming and totally bought it, to each his own, I guess.

  16. The product placement I don’t think was Disney desperate for money, I think it was those companies desperate for money. It was probably like:
    Subway/Wonka/Nesquik: “Oh Disney, can we please please please be in your movie? Pretty please with a cherry on top?”
    Disney: “Meh, I’ll think about it.”
    BTW, Laffy Taffy tastes a lot better than that picture lets on.

  17. Let the battle…oh wait. We’re only at Wreck-It Ralph. Good review. I do think the film kind of “jumped the shark” near the end when Vanellope became a Princess and Fix-It Felix is kind of one-dimensional to me. However, I do like how there’s a relationship between a male and a female character that’s NOT romantic, so that’s a plus.

    1. Oh, yeah and ignore that person on the IMDb boards. They have some weird hatred towards Frozen. I see them a lot on negative reviews of Frozen on YouTube always agreeing with them and downplaying the film on Tangled videos.

  18. Holy shit, I am ridiculously late. After watching this film recently, I have to say it is brilliant. Simply brilliant. The characters are great (though Felix could be better), the plot is unpredictable (which is almost NEVER the case for a WDAS film), and they pulled off doing something different because there is logic and heart in the story. Ehhh, Frozen is next, but another UM review is always brilliant.

  19. “He’s a lying, traitorous, sociopath who brought untold death and destruction on Earth and plotted on several occasions to murder his own foster brother and father.

    The ladies of the internet love Loki. And you know what? I get that. He’s charming, he gets all the best lines, he’s got a tragic backstory and he loves his muddah. And he’s played by Tom Hiddleston, who’s a right bit of yum. Ladies of the internet? I get it.”

    I despise Loki. This is problematic because the girlfriend and the sister both love him. :\ He’s just…the epitome of selfishness, and I can’t stand that in a person or a character. There is not one situation he was involved in–not even his own mother’s murder, which he is partly responsible for, by the way, since he gave the killer the directions out of the dungeon–that he has not somehow finagled to be to his personal advantage. He has displayed no genuine 100% non-self-centered emotion, and if he HAS, he may as well not have because no one can trust his sincerity. Loki cares about nothing except himself, therefore I find myself incapable of caring about Loki.

    But Tom Hiddleston? YUMMY. I would like ten please.

  20. Officially Officially Officially favourite movie Blog Post. Officially. Love Ralph, love Felix love Calhoun (Sarah Silverman is like Marmite, which I detest.) Love this movie. Props, bra (did i spell that right? it used to be ‘bro’) Love it. Keep It Up Mouse. 🙂

  21. this is the only time in a Disney movie I have cried for more than 1 time. Snow White? Lion King? meh, only once. but this one tho………….I absolutely broke down when Vanellope was screaming in despair while her loved one destroyed her hard work. coz I experienced that before, and it was not a good feeling.
    and then that scene where he dropped onto the mountain to make the beam. that pledge was ugh I couldn’t stop crying. I love this movie so much.

    and of course, my fav character is Vanellope (surprise!) since I relate to her so much…

  22. LOVE this movie! Had no idea about Vanellope’s polarizing effect and Turbo fanaticism (Seriously, WHAT?!?) before. I actually prefer this to Tangled. And Vanellope is a doll. That last line always creates a lump in my throat, “That’s when I realize… I don’t need a medal to tell me I’m a good guy. Because if that kid likes me… how bad can I be?”. I can totally relate because I have a wonderful friend just like Vanellope who always picks me up during my times of self-doubt.

  23. I love this film, though I am one of those who finds Sarah Silverman dead annoying and I wish they had picked somebody else. Everything else about it just shines, though. Felix is absolutely my favorite character. I crack up at some point in every one of his scenes, and my kids have now adopted the expression, whenever I tell them to do something they don’t like, “I don’t have to do boo! Pardon my potty mouth.”
    That last image of Elsa…why is it I suddenly feel like “build a snowman” is a euphemism for something dirty?

  24. Hey man! Remember me?
    …Neil?
    Sorry for not commenting on your previous posts, I tried but I guess I didn’t really have much to say (other than “Eh, Akira was alright. Now Wolf Children? That shit’s for real”). I voted on the Blog Awards though, so at least I have that going for me, right?
    …I actually don’t have much to say here either. Just remember to mention Hans’ villain song, Neil (COUGHCOUGHloveisanopendoorCOUGH) and all the foreshadowing.

  25. Mouse, I’ve been thinking about what you said about it being a cheat for King Candy to be a villain so that Vanellope could race again, and came to the realization why I like the plot twist so much instead of rolling my eyes at it. It’s the same theme of a patriarchal system oppressing a young girl with the flawed reasoning of “It’s for her own good!” that appears and works so well in Frozen too (not surprising as Jennifer Lee wrote for both movies). But there it was a genuine case of Elsa’s dad being misguided and inadvertently dooming his daughter’s childhood by projecting his own fear and panic onto her.

    In Ralph, it is far more sinister with Turbo not only invading a “matriarchal realm” and deposing the female ruler by seizing her throne for himself through unfair means, but also manipulating everybody else to either vilify her or make them believe that he is only looking out for her. I’m sure this is Jennifer Lee’s doing as Turbo shares MANY traits with Hans (feelings of insecurity and jealousy, in Hans’ case it was for older brothers, in Turbo’s case, for the new game in the arcade, lust for power and popularity, excellent skills of manipulation and deception, assessing the vulnerability in people, especially emotional vulnerability, and then preying on them like a true predator etc.)

    You can actually see the foundations of most of the themes in Frozen in Wreck-It Ralph, which is why I love WiR so much.

  26. “Ah screw it. Let’s sprint for the finish line.”
    But to quote Wreck-it Ralph completely out of context: “There is no finish line!” Even after you’re finished with Frozen, the Disney canon will continue to grow, and the Internet will always have an Unshaved Mouse to review it… RIGHT?!

  27. If you’re ever looking for a good children’s book about morality in video games, there is “Only you can save mankind” by Terry Pratchett. Jonny has a shooting aliens game but, then the aliens surrender…

  28. I only read this review up until Ralph meets Calhoun — only because I haven’t seen it yet and I don’t want anything spoiled. So I will say that the part that I read I really enjoyed.

    But a question: no review of “Brave”? Merida is officially a Disney princess. Or are you counting it as a Pixar movie because it was produced by Pixar and only released by Disney?

  29. I did in fact not know that Disney had plans on doing a movie set in an arcade (or home console or computer or whatever they’d pick) back then. Mouse has enlightened me once more. I also did not know that Walt Disney has an army of riders he can summon to strike down vile trolls, but I am a happier man for knowing this exists.
    Now then. Wreck-it Ralph. This was a movie that I, and most likely every gamer out there, was predisposed to liking. We had seen the commercials, we hyped ourselves up for what would be the Roger Rabbit of videogames! What we got… well. Maybe we need to wait sixty years first.
    That is not to say that this is a bad movie, oh no. Not at all. But upon rewatching the movie I must admit it seemed to flipflop between treating the game characters as “actors” in a play sometimes, and programs with hardwired code-based behaviour at other times. Turbo can manipulate the memories of everyone in Sugar Rush by entering the code, the cy-bugs are (for some reason) not actors but monsters who consume all they see and are legitimate threats, more like viruses than actors, and by resetting the game Vanellope unlocks everyones memories and restores her previous state (which would presumably also boot “King Candy” and restore him to Turbo) All that feels like it’s following preset code. But Fix-It Felix doesn’t try to just tap Vanellope with the hammer, even though it’s established he can restore objects that are broken as dictated by his native games code. Bad guys are vilified by the general populace, even though they form a very important part of the game: if people think they’re coded to be that way or they have to be that way in order to continue the show, why the prejudice? Why are the zombies from House of the Dead allowed at Bad Anon, and not the cy-bugs?
    Someone theorized that maybe the NPCs in Niceland didn’t like Ralph because he keeps wrecking their homes, even when its a neccesary service they’re not exactly HAPPY about it, but it kinda feels like the movie should decide whether they want to take the “actor” approach to its logical conclusion, or the free will deal, and just stick to a rule-set. As is it just feels a bit lazy to have all the Nicelanders be mean to Ralph, just like ALL the racers were mean to Vanellope when you’d think that some of them wouldn’t be… actively antagonistic, I suppose, but just kind of keep an awkward distance to her and go “well it’s sad she’s not getting to race but it can’t be helped, you all know what king Candy says” etc.
    I guess it kind of boils down to how the movie sometimes treated code like a magic force that just does whatever it needs for the plot, sometimes like something with hard-set rules. I don’t know if it’s my experience with game design that trips me up here and if that’s something your average moviegoer wouldn’t be bothered by, but it was there. Kind of like how they can recreate in great detail the feel and graphical fidelity of a 80’s DK-clone game, yet can’t get Zangief’s moral alignment correct. And why yes- let me tell you of Street Fighters continuity, because I am a fan and you invited this to your door-step Mouse. You did this. I am but the rainstorm that drowns your metaphorically unprotected potato harvest, and you have naught but your own lack of preparation to blame.
    Seriously though Zangief was never portrayed as avillain in any game- according to interviews with the director he just cast him as a villain because his strongest memory of SF2 was that he justcould not beat him, and this hatred made him a villain. And on the one hand that IS a kinda cute story and it could’ve passed without comment, but as I said before: we were expecting the Roger Rabbit of video games, more or less. And what did we get? What did we get I say?
    … Well, a heartwarming story that was indeed a solid attempt to marry good old Disney magic and love with a new setting, tickling many a nostalgia bone and provoking many a tear doring the Villain Oath recitation scene. Not a bad movie, not a bad movie at all- but I just feel like whereas Tangled was a great mix of brains and heart, this movie had WAY more heart than it had thought. There’s plot holes a plenty here such as: Why does the game accept Ralphs medal as a coin, just because it’s shaped like one? Why does EVERY single racer bully Vanellope? Why did Sour Bill help Turbo muck around in the games code to begin with, when he knew that Vanellope was the rightful queen? Why does he remember this if his memories were locked away? It could have been nice if he revealed that Turbo promised to rewrite his code and maybe make him happy, only to then hold that promise hostage in exchange for further loyalty. How did Turbo escape having both Turbo Time and the new racing game plugged and end up in Sugar Rush? How did King Candy find him JUST as Vanellope went to fetch her medal? How did he get there so quickly? They were immune to his sight even while inside the code, from what the movie showed me?
    Let’s talk romance- Felix essentially falls in love with Calhoun because she’s pretty. Had they gone the small step of perhaps showing us Felix swoon over Calhouns command of the situation and ability to take charge and have him say something about how he didn’t know women could do other things but bake cakes and get kidnapped, his instant crush could have been a bit more palatable and still have elements of the funny “old-school meets new-school” conflict here. As is, Felix and Ralphs relationship develops far more than Felix and Calhoun. Even if Calhoun gets a small arc and gets married, and even if the two have a ton of funny dialogue between them, I wouldn’t really say I think their rapport is very memorable.
    Not to say that’s all bad- this IS mostly Ralph’s movie, Ralph who changes thanks to Vanellope and Felix who changes in regards to Ralph, but it just feels like they could have made the side characters relationships far more than just one-off jokes with not a lot of effort. And Ralph really is an interesting character- he and Vanellope managed to smash my heart to smithereens and rebuild the rubble into quite a cozy home for themselves. Even though Ralph is the catalyst for all the bad that happens, seeing the way he’s treated and realizing that he hasn’t had a support network (since the movie shows him going to bad anon for the very first time) makes you sympathize with him in spite of his actions. And as much of an asspull as him ending up in Sugar Rush (and why didn’t he just smash the Cy-bug in one punch like he did later in the movie) it was worth it to see Ralph encounter Vanellope and Turbo.
    I do like how up until he smashes her kart, Ralph is quite morally ambiguous. He keeps stressing the importance of winning for him,important it is to win for his sake, but he is apologetic when the kart doesn’t come out as good as he’d like and he does chase the bullies away. There’s layers here, much like a certain other big surly guy. One can argue whether smashing her kart was a heroic action- I know I’ve seen a fair few people who dislike that trope, of doing something “bad for someone elses good” because it often comes out as condescending, but the way Ralph goes about it makes all the difference in my mind. He comes clean about what King Candy has told him and when her reaction isn’t to debunk the accusation (because how CAN she, she doesn’t know the truth and has nothing but hopes and dreams that have taken their fair share of beatings over the years) you don’t really know what is right and what is wrong. It’s heavy stuff.
    It also explains why Ralph doesn’t defend himself when Gene tells him off at the penthouse. At first I was unsatisfied with this scene because the Nicelanders get away scot-free and arenever called on how they’ve treated Ralph during the years. But as mad as that might make me it’s still the truth that Ralph put him and them in this situation, and considering how awful he’s feeling it makes sense that he wouldn’t try to defend himself. (kinda curious why he didn’t recognize Vanellope from the get-go if he had been looking out at the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet for however long it’s been in there though).
    After that however, Ralph finally knows what to do. I was a little bit surprised that you were gunning for a sacrifical ending though- I didn’t even consider death to be repentence because that would have doomed Felix and the Nicelanders (kiiinda throws some shade over his heroic sacrifice though, considering what would’ve happened had it “worked out”) Vanellope pulling a car out of her hoodie IS a stretch, I admit, and it would’ve probably been better if she had just glitchaported him out of harms way.
    As for Turbo, he’s an interesting villain on account of just how devious he is. But I can’t say he ever convinced me he was a good guy. The speech SOUNDED nice and convincing, but the movie showed him talking of her like a “glitch” which was pretty obviously a slur before he’d even talked to Ralph. I can’t say I bought him caring for the greater good after that. Seeing her databox floating in the code was also a pretty good tell that something was not right in the state of Candyland. (Although I do like the subtle foreshadowing here like how often he insists he’s the king, and how his design doesn’t really match any of the other racers) And his death? As brutal as his final form was creepy. Was I the only one unnerved by how he kept spouting both his Turbo and King candy catch phrase like he couldn’t control a tic? I don’t think I was.
    Also curious how come you didn’t care much for the plot up until the “it’s for her own good” twist- is it still so that you don’t care for what the movie does until that point, or do you like it better now that you’re in a different mood-set?
    On the whole, I would say I like Wreck-it Ralph for nailing the heart-factor despite flubbing the brain-factor. I have a lot of hang-ups with the plot and wish they expanded on/changed some things to make the story more coherent and thought-out. Plot holes abound in the middle and some in the end, unlike Tangled which concentrated most of it’s plot holes to the start and then proceeded to run smooth like butter afterwards.
    But even if Felix and Calhoun are a shallow couple I can’t deny that their banter amuses me and that the casting is so superb I can accept almost anything that falls from their lips. The various worlds are diverse and have so much effort put into their look and physics (like the Nicelanders choppy animation, Clyde always moving in two dimensions), they’re very varied and manage to cram every candy-pun they can think of into one racing track. You are just never bored when you watch this movie. Ralph and Vanellope are wonderfully cast, watching Ralph change and Vanellope win and be rightfully restored as Queen of hearts Candyland does a heart good because she’s not just a snarky adorable winner, even if she threatens to go awfully near that territory. Her struggle with her “pixlexia” feels a bit more human than your average damsel in distress, and she’s just an inspiring little one. This movie, for it’s flaws, manage to find a place in my heart and would have one even if it didn’t have the video game themes. Certainly helps, but it would have had a place regardless.
    And now… ah. Now. The end of the line approaches, and it’s with a heavy heart that we’re probably going to end on a disagreement. I won’t use this space to rant, just say that it’s been clear ever since you put a Frozen song at the foremost “heart-wrenching” moment in Disney, when my reaction in theaters was a loud gigglesnort at how abruptly they killed off the parents and expected me to be sad about it, that we won’t see eye to eye about it.
    But… thinking like that won’t do me no good. This year has been good, Mouse. Doesn’t feel to say I dread this day considering it was always going to happen and that I’ve had so much fun on the ride. There’s nothing to be done for the end, but face it with head held high and fond memories in mind. Let’s go, Mouse. To the end of the line.

    1. I would argue that the cy-bugs don’t join because Hero’s Duty was a brand new arcade game at the time that’s only been there for a week and I suppose maybe the House of the Dead zombies grew a conscious or something and I guess they went through a Buzz Light year or so in that they figured out they were video game characters, but that’s just me. As for Zangief being a villain, hasn’t Zangief at times been one of Bison’s lackeys? And maybe comes across as villainous sometimes?

      1. Mmm, I briefly considered that kind of explanaton (they’re new to the arcade, or they were programmed that way), but at the same time it is kind of weird how these guys are the one exception to the rule of the movie, that everyone is just an actor.
        Also you have a point-ish. His original characterization, such as it was, were two victory lines in SF2. “Next time I will break your arms!”, and “You are too weak to fight me”. He was a servant of Bison in the movie, but was there portrayed as quite dimwitted but honest and honorable, and thought Bison was a good guy. The games from then on portrayed him as a mix of original game and movie personality- he’s an agressive dude, but also quite friendly and goodnatured if you get on his good side. He himself says that all he does, he does for his nation and to give it’s children hope and so on, so he’s quite the heroic type… just, you know, heroic in a Russian way.

  30. Congratulations, Mouse, on completing the canon (for now) and I’m so glad you’ll be sticking around. Think you might review Pete’s Dragon some time? I think I remember you said you didn’t like it. It’s a personal nostalgic favorite of mine, but I can see why some wouldn’t like it and I’m curious to see your reasons. Anyway, I guess we’ll see how people vote. Here’s hoping. And, again, congratulations! 🙂

    1. I think I may have to rewatch this one because when I watched it on DVD, it was kinda meh for me. This might be because I’m not a gamer, but as a Disney fan, I wasn’t that into it. Still an excellent review as always Mouse!!!:-))

  31. Sometimes being a responsible adult means having to be the bad guy. Indeed. However Mouse, I have to disagree that we’ve never had this sort of conflict before in a Disney movie. Baloo found himself in a similar situation to old Ralphie 45 years before Wreck It Ralph, when he had to break his promise to Mowgli and take him to the Man-Village (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqvT8QX-mjc). He even had his mantra thrown back in his face before doing so because Irony. It was a sad scene, even though Baloo got himself into that mess by sticking his nose in Mowgli and Bagheera’s business in the first place. What Wreck It Ralph does is take the Baloo / Mowgli conflict and take it five steps further. Vanellope is a far more sympathetic character than Mowgli, and Ralph smashing up her car is very reminiscent of Triton blowing up Ariel’s hopes and dreams. It’s so hard to watch.

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