REVIEW: Wreck-It Ralph

*I will strive to keep the spoilers to an absolute minimum

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_________”I’m bad and thats good. I will never be good and thats not bad. There is no one I’d rather be but me.

This is a movie about video games created by Disney and it is ASTOUNDINGLY well done. It is an animated film that takes itself seriously while preforming delightful comedy and surprisingly, at times even manages to pluck at the old heartstrings. I went to see this with my little sister and while she couldn’t stop laughing I couldn’t stop grinning–we both thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic movie and tribute to video game fans everywhere. But its not all in-jokes–though there are many hilarious and much-appreciated references, one does not need to be a video game expert to appreciate this film.
I am not going to spoil the plot or go into too much detail about the movie itself, I’m sure other more qualified critics can do a better job of summarizing this tail of rebellion and self-acceptance. Instead I will focus on the feminist aspects of this film, and more specifically the four major characters and critique them for the well-constructed heroes that they are.
In the beginning we see gender roles being challenged almost immediately but in the most casual, subtle ways. Such as two boys playing a ‘girly’ racing game and a girl playing a ‘manly’ shoot ’em up game. Its not just a role reversal though because the girl later wonders over to the racing game and wants to play that too, so it is having your cake and eating it too. Now, on to the characters:
RALPH
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I actually don’t have too much to say about the main character. He is a fun protagonist to watch. Ralph strives for acceptance and as a result rebels against his own nature or ‘programming’. He is a ‘bad guy’ who wants to do good, mostly for the sake of the recognition of his peers who shun him. As he goes along, Ralph usually ends up fudging things up and causing more harm then good. He is saved by the little girl he made friends with and then hurt earlier in the show. This is a REFRESHING exit from Disney’s usual damsel in distress scenario. Ralph is ultimately possessed by a need for redemption and simultaneously seeks self-acceptance.


VANELLOPE

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This little dynamo is a ‘glitch’, basically meaning she has abilities outside the norm and is therefore even more of an outcast from her society (game) than Ralph is. She is spunky, energetic, somewhat annoying, and is generally a lovable brat, challenging the status quo just like her big brute friend Ralph. Unlike Ralph, she has no interest in being a hero, but rather wants to be a racer–a part of her community. She does not so much care about acceptance so much as achieving her potential. Vanellope is an invigorating on-screen character with a delightfully twisted side. At one point she sheds the confines of society (a dress) and remain herself, while teasing those who used to torment her.

FELIX
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Felix is a typical goody two-shoes kind of guy. While his powers are undoubtedly useful and his official role is ‘the hero’, he is in this role-reversal story, a support character. Felix is the epitome of a submissive personality, bouncing his own existence off of the presence of others. He fixes what Ralph breaks, is the hero for the people of his community and pines after and is a (at one time literal) punching bag for the domineering woman he has a crush on. His interaction with that woman is of particular interest and is the point where his character shines through the best. Unlike his friends on this list, he IS the status quo, yet simultaneously serves as a catalyst for the progress of others. He has no real conflict or fault to overcome, which is unfortunate as he could potentially have had more depth, (perhaps if they had taken the time to illustrate the pressures of everyone expecting him to succeed or how it can be lonely on the top too) instead they compare the worst time of his life to any old day that Ralph has, thereby making him little more then a good-natured hanger-on. Instead of redemption, fulfillment or self-love, Felix instead strives to uplift others and make everyone around him happy.

SERGEANT CALHOUN

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She is the ‘tough chick’ character on a quest to destroy the evil alien bugs of her world. Calhoun is single-minded in her mission to keep the bugs (literal viruses) from spreading to the other games. Though totally capable and without a doubt the most badass of the group, she seems to desire some reciprocation–someone she can count on. Calhoun, like Vanellope, are their own characters. Reflecting on the film it feels like Ralph and Felix are no more or less important then their female counterparts. This is a story about the dames as well as the dudes and no character feels overshadowed. Calhoun’s ending in particular made me laugh almost to the point of tears.

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

*MASSIVE SPOILERS!*

Calhoun marries Felix. Wearing a dress just like she always wanted (unlike Vanellope, who is in her own right the BEST Disney Princess to date).

This film is cute and touching and succeeds in creating not just strong female characters, but compelling ones as well. The ladies of this game world manage to grow (level?) and keep their individualism intact. That rarity in cinema alone is worth all the praises this movie deserves in spades.

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