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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wreck-It Ralph brings video games to life in a way that will appeal to both kids and adults. The story is about a "bad guy" who deserts his classic arcade game to prove that he's not so bad after all, turning Disney's animated adventure into the tale of an underdog searching for a new identity. The movie is accurate in the way it presents popular games/game genres, so you can expect some action-packed scenes, especially in the parts of the movie that take place in a first-person shooter game (guns, aliens, etc.). Game characters can die, but it's only permanent if it happens outside their home game. In one scene presented comically, someone grabs a zombie's heart out of its chest. There's also a little bit of drinking and kissing -- and a fair amount of potty humor/language ("butt," "doody," etc.) -- amid the movie's deeper messages about identity, compassion, loyalty, and challenging the status quo.
What's the story?
After 30 years of playing the villain in the arcade game Fix-It Felix, WRECK-IT RALPH (voiced by John C. Reilly) decides he needs to prove that he has what it takes to be a good guy. He sneaks and stumbles his way into other consoles -- specifically, an alien-invasion, first-person shooter game and a Candy Land-esque racing game -- in search for a hero's medal, which he believes is his one-way ticket to being accepted within the arcade community. With the help of characters like Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), Ralph's journey becomes much more than a quest for peer validation. His friendship with Vanellope, in particular, helps him realize that, at the end of the day, there's nobody he'd rather be than himself. The DVD release includes the short film The Paperman, plus deleted scenes and other extras.
Is it any good?
Kids, adults, gamers, and tech newbies will enjoy Disney's imaginative interpretation of code, pixels, avatars, and wires, as well as the movie's many references to iconic video game characters. Like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc, Wreck-It Ralph takes place in a magical world that only exists behind closed doors -- one in which video game characters come to life in arcades after hours.
There are a few missteps: The movie could definitely have cut back on its rude humor, which sometimes overshadows Wreck-It Ralph's meaningful messages about being an underdog and discovering who you really are.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Wreck-It Ralph portrays video game violence. What's realistic? What's not? What are your family's values when it comes to violence in the media?
What are the movie's female characters like? Do they challenge stereotypes about girls and "girly" video games? How so?
Talk about the ways that Ralph and Vanellope are mistreated and misunderstood. What could other characters have done to be more inclusive and more accepting? In what ways could they have shown more compassion and empathy?
- In theaters: November 2, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2013
- Cast: Jane Lynch, John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman
- Director: Rich Moore
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, Teamwork
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor and mild action/violence
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