Wreck-It Ralph ★★★

To be honest, I had little interest in Wreck-It Ralph, in large part because I'm the world's worst (and least enthusiastic) gamer. [Seriously, I have never beaten Super Mario Bros.] All the buzz surrounding it after it hit theaters had to do with all the gaming shout-outs. When I pressed for commentary on the actual narrative, I was met with a lot less excitement. In short, it didn't seem like a particularly urgent way to spend my time.

My niece, however, was insistent that I see it so we rented it. John C. Reilly was a terrific choice to voice the titular character. He sounds like an underappreciated, working class guy. Ditto Jack McBrayer as the "aw, shucks" Fix-It Felix, Jr. and Jane Lynch as the no-nonsense action hero Sgt. Calhoun. Sarah Silverman showed surprising range with her inflections, managing to imbue Vanellope von Schweetz with both spunk and vulnerability. Solid choices all around, really.

I was relieved that the film's references to gaming culture were more window dressing than necessary for understanding the story. It was surprisingly easy to get into the narrative and to connect with the principal characters. Part of me wishes Vanellope hadn't been able to use her glitch feature to save Wreck-It Ralph, but I knew that was an unrealistic hope.

Somewhere in analysis of the film must certainly be a dissertation on the marriage of video game culture and acceptance - if not encouragement - of violence in children's entertainment. Kids too young to play Halo weren't too young to see it homaged in Wreck-It Ralph. Ralph himself laments being seen exclusively as a destructive brute, so there's that, but there's still a heavy reliance on Starship Troopers-level bug killing throughout the film. Which reminds me: Who thought that Sgt. Calhoun's backstory needed her groom to be eaten by a bug? Either that was an entirely incongruous moment of tragedy or it was the most tasteless joke in the film.

Still, there's enough to like that overall I'm fine with Wreck-It Ralph. I can't say I'd make a point to go see the sequel, but if it's something that interests my niece when it inevitably does come out, I probably won't object to taking her to see it.

How Wreck-It Ralph Entered My Flickchart

Wreck-It Ralph < The Man Who Wasn't There --> #1529
Wreck-It Ralph was likable and had a solid voice cast, but I prefer the neo-noir Man Who Wasn't There to the gaming culture homage.

Wreck-It Ralph > Encino Man --> #1346
I'm old enough now that I don't really remember much from Encino Man. By default, this one goes to Wreck-It Ralph.

Wreck-It Ralph < Honey, I Blew Up the Kid --> #1346
Not being a gamer (at all), I didn't connect as much with Wreck-It Ralph as did others. I am, however, old enough that Honey, I Blew Up the Kid was part of my movie-going youth. It gets the nod.

Wreck-It Ralph > Space Jam --> #1298
If we're talking soundtrack albums, Space Jam nails this one. Otherwise, this one goes to Wreck-It Ralph handily.

Wreck-It Ralph > So I Married an Axe Murderer --> #1274
I really wanted to like So I Married an Axe Murderer but it's really just a Mike Myers improv sketch that doesn't know when to end. Wreck-It Ralph is focused and moves at a brisk pace, and earns the win here.

Wreck-It Ralph > Timecode --> #1262
I'm still intrigued by the concept of Timecode, but the truth is none of its four stories were all that compelling. Wreck-It Ralph isn't groundbreaking cinema, but it knows what it is and that's okay.

Wreck-It Ralph > Wanda Sykes: Sick & Tired --> #1256
My sense of it is that I laughed more at Wanda Sykes, but I'd be more apt to re-watch Wreck-It Ralph.

Wreck-It Ralph > Crocodile Dundee II --> #1253
Did the world need a movie dedicated to gaming culture? Sure. Did the world need a Crocodile Dundee sequel? Not really.

Wreck-It Ralph < Demon Knight --> #1253
Wreck-It Ralph was likable and fun and all that, but I love me some old school Tales from the Crypt!

Wreck-It Ralph entered my Flickchart at #1253/1538
That seems pretty low to me, but them's the breaks. I'm sure it'll rise in the course of normal Flickcharting.