Building up Girls by Tearing Down Boys
My wife and I were initially reluctant to take our daughters to see a Disney movie. However, after reading the few initial reviews of Ralph Wreaks the Internet here on Common Sense Media and doing some internet research we decided to give it a chance. While mildly entertaining, the movie unfortunately tries to build up girls by tearing boys down. While Ralph is portrayed as physically big and strong, he is also buffoonish, insecure and emotionally weak, with his clinginess and insecurity being central to the plot of the movie. In retrospect, every significant male character in the movie seems to be portrayed with some combination of either physical or emotional weakness, incompetence, sleaziness, creepiness, subservience, unattractively drawn, etc... Basically, the movie completely lacks any positive male role models. On the other hand, every significant female character is cool, clever, commanding, strong ( character wise and emotionally if not physically ), attractively drawn, etc... Well, that's not entirely true. The main female character, Penelope, does have a small insecurity - she is hesitant to abandon her best friend of six years, Ralph, in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a permanent character in the dangerous, violent and exciting Grand Theft Auto style racing game, Slaughter Race. Of course, after almost destroying the internet in pursuit of Penelope's attention and being rescued by the Disney princesses ( more on that in a moment ), Ralph has an epiphany about how he has been holding back Penelope with his insecurity, clinginess, and general emotional neediness, and Penelope is finally able to get on with her life, fulfill her dreams and leave Ralph behind. Now of course they do stay friends, at a distance, but it's clear in the aftermath that while Penelope is living out her dreams, Ralph is just kind of meandering along in life, trying to fill his empty life with activities in between Penelope's calls home and occasional visits. And this invites the subject of unnecessary role reversals. Penelope becomes the careerist out on the road fulfilling her dreams, while Ralph becomes the stay at home wife, eagerly awaiting her return and every communication. You might even say there's a little Bridges of Madison County in this, except that Penelope does run away - with the savvy, strong, beautiful, exciting and wise Latino gangster lady. The other unnecessary role reversal involves Ralph being rescued by the Disney princesses. In and of itself there's nothing wrong with a woman saving a man. However, the way this movie carried it out contributed nothing to the plot of the story and felt forced and out of place. The princesses seem to just pop up out of no where, saving Ralph by slipping him into a Snow White dress and landing him in Snow White's bed - to be woken up by the kiss of a frog. It's the final humiliation of Wreck It Ralph and just serves to drive home the movie's main point - that Girlz Rule while boys drool. Seriously, just skip this one unless you're a bitter old woman wishing she'd run off with Robert Kincaid, or maybe a sexy Latino gangster lady.