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Laramie Movie Scope:
Wreck-It Ralph

Avatars that exceed their programs

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 6, 2012 -- This is a funny, heartwarming adventure with characters based on vintage video games like “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man.” The story about a villain named “Wreck-It Ralph” who longs to be a hero is reminiscent of Pixar films like “Toy Story” and “The Incredibles.”

Ralph is the villain in a video game called “Fix-It Felix Jr.” He tears down an apartment building while the game player manipulates Felix, who fixes all the damage. Ralph notes that it is a good gig. The game has lasted 30 years, a lot longer than most. After 30 years, though, Ralph is tired of being the bad guy and having to sleep in the junk yard while everyone else in the building is comfortable in their own rooms and beds. The last straw comes at a party celebrating the 30th anniversary of the game, a party for Felix and the other players, to which Ralph is not invited.

As in the “Toy Story” movies, all the characters in the video game arcade come to life when the arcade shuts down for the night. They travel through the wires to meet in a kind of video game mall. It is even possible for characters to travel from one game to another. The game avatars call this act of going rogue -- moving from one game to another -- turbo, after the name of an avatar who became jealous of a new game and moved into it and took it over, ruining both games. Ralph has no intention of going turbo, but he does want to win a hero's medallion, just to prove he is more than a villain. He goes to a villain's self-help meeting, much like an Alcoholic's Anonymous meeting, complete with confessions and affirmations. Ralph is urged to accept his place in the game, but he doesn't want to.

Angry at not being invited to the party, Ralph leaves “Fix-It Felix Jr.” and heads out for game central, looking for a place where he can win a hero's medal. He finds one in a commando game called “Hero's Duty,” but finds the game too violent for his tastes. He is finally able to climb a tower in the game and capture a hero's medallion. In doing so, however, he is catapulted into another game, “Sugar Rush,” where he loses the medallion and accidentally releases a deadly bug into the game, which can destroy it.

Fortunately, a fierce female warrior, Calhoun, follows Ralph into the Sugar Rush game, determined to kill the bug. Felix also follows Ralph into Sugar Rush. Felix hopes to persuade Ralph to come back to “Fix-It Felix Jr.” It turns out that the game can't go on without Ralph, and it may be shut down permanently if Ralph doesn't return. During their adventures, Felix falls for the very attractive warrior, Calhoun. Ralph makes friends with Vanellope von Schweetz, an avatar racer in Sugar Rush. Although she stole Ralph's hero medallion to use as a token to enter the race, she and Ralph have a lot in common. Both are outcasts in their games, and both feel they have a lot to offer.

As the bugs multiply out of control and Vanellope von Schweetz's very existence is threatened, Ralph has to make some hard decisions. There are some clever jokes and a lot of funny puns in the film. The characters are interesting and the story is compelling. The only problem is that it just goes on too long rehashing the same material. Most animated features these days run about 90 minutes or less. This one runs 101 minutes, and it seems longer than that. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2012 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)