Wreck-It RalphRalph is a bad guy. Well, he’s not a bad guy, but… he’s a bad guy. In an arcade game called Felix Fix-It Jr. Ralph breaks a penthouse full of cute little people, Felix fixes it with his magic hammer and wins a medal. That’s how it’s been every single day for thirty years. Felix gets parties and cake and admiration, while Ralph lives in the dump and is shunned and hated.

One day, Ralph finally decides to change all this. He’s tired of being a bad guy, and wants to be a hero. He obtains a promise that if he gets a medal, he can live in the penthouse, and sets out to get a shiny, hero medal from the Cy-Bug-ridden Hero’s Duty game.

But after gaining the medal, his clumsiness sends him crashing into the candy-coated Sugar Rush racing game, where he meets an annoying but cute little girl who needs his help. Not to mention that Fix-It-Felix Jr. is being shut down without Ralph’s wrecking, and Ralph accidentally brought a Cy-Bug with him that’s going to eat Sugar Rush and then all the rest of the arcade if it can’t be stopped.

Can Ralph make the right choices in a world where the tweak of a code can change everything? Can he save the arcade and do his duty? And what really makes a hero, anyway?

The Fixed

I was impressed by the theme of the movie. At first it looks like there’s nothing wrong with Ralph’s goal–he wants to be good, right? And he’s just lonely and tired of being shunned. Is his dream of being gloried and loved such a bad one? As the story progresses, however, Ralph comes to realize that this goal was actually a selfish one. He was so caught up in his own desires and comfort that he lost sight of his responsibilities, seriously endangering everyone around him.

And not only does he admit this, but he’s willing to right his wrongs and fix things, no matter what it takes–even if he has to sacrifice his own life for it.

The themes of friendship and loyalty are also strong. Ralph demonstrates true loyalty to Vanillope by being willing to hurt her in order to do what’s best for her in the long run. He gives a cherry he was about to eat to some “gameless” characters who are in need, demonstrating true heroic behavior that may not win medals, but makes him much more of a good guy than he realizes.

The film is also overall clean. There are a few issues that I’ll discuss later, but there is no language, no sexuality, and no graphic violence.

The Wrecked

The biggest concerns of the movie are some mild crude humor, and some pretty scary violence. Vanillope is very rough around the edges, and consistently calls Ralph names like “Stinkbrain” and “Captain Underwear.” He later reciprocates with names like “Boogerface.” Even though most of these instances are teasingly affectionate, and at worst just annoyingly taunting, it comes up fairly frequently. There’s also one scene where Ralph explains that he got his medal in the “Hero’s Duty” game, and Vanillope giggles and makes fun of the name with phrases like “I bet you have to watch your step in there!” followed by several other mild toilet jokes.

The violence is higher than for many animated films, especially in the Hero’s Duty game and the climax of the movie, featuring thousands of Cy-Bugs, explosions, and dangerous situations. In one scene near the beginning, at a villain support group meeting, one villain rips a zombie’s heart out and holds it to make a point, which was mildly gross.

Calhoun, a female sergeant from the Hero’s Duty game, is a prominent character, and is a tough, intense, warrior in a suit of heavy-duty game armor. Her backstory is a tragic one of a fiance eaten by Cy-Bugs, hardening her into a warrior who lives only to destroy the vermin. Some may be put off by her feminism, but it wasn’t a large part of the plot and didn’t affect the theme at all, in my view, and I especially enjoyed seeing her character soften under the influence of association with good, old-fashioned gentleman Felix.

The Gameplay

The movie is really incredibly clever, and worth seeing for that fact alone. The way the video game world is treated, and the mechanics and rules of passing between games is really delightful. The humor and the world made me laugh out loud throughout.

The animation is amazing, and the translation of arcade graphics to CGI characters had me grinning several times. The story kept me on my toes the entire time, tossing in multiple twists that were often unpredictable even to me (I’m known for guessing twists before they come). Not to mention that it had me crying multiple times.

If the crude humor doesn’t bother you and you aren’t scared by a little animated intensity, I’d definitely recommend this movie for the cleverness, the heartwarming characters, and the sincere lesson, about what really makes a hero.

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