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.

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)