Wreck-It Ralph

 
(i)

 

Game-themed movie mixes potty humor with strong messages.
  • Review Date: November 1, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids are introduced to tech terms and concepts like game code, consoles, and avatars.

Positive messages

Characters learn to embrace the way they're programmed, rather than change themselves for others. Characters also discover the importance of walking a mile in someone else's shoes before judging them. Themes of inclusivity/exclusivity and selflessness/selfishness are woven throughout the story in many ways.

Positive role models

Ralph's quest for peer approval turns into a journey about becoming proud of who he is and what he's able to contribute. He doesn't let his official "bad guy" status overshadow the qualities that make him good: He's kind, resourceful, and sticks up for the underdog. Despite her potty-mouth insults, Vanellope is a spunky, clever, and determined character. In a game that's stereotypically girly, she challenges the status quo. She finds a way to channel her "defectiveness" as a game "glitch" into something positive.

Violence & scariness

In one scene, a first-person shooter video game comes to life. Characters from this game (who are more realistic looking than some of the others) fire big guns at aliens, which end up invading other games. In a brief and comic-toned scene, a character impulsively grabs a zombie's heart out of his chest, but no real damage is done. In another flashback, a character is eaten by an alien bug. Calhoun and Ralph are the most aggressive characters; they occasionally punch others and destroy their surroundings. Cautionary tales about characters' deaths (if a character dies in a game outside of their own, they can't regenerate) and homelessness (games that are put out of order) may be upsetting to younger kids. One character does die, but it's in his own game, so he regenerates.

Sexy stuff

Two game characters fall in love and get married. They exchange a smooch, as well as a more passionate kiss in another scene. One iconic game character, a male wrestler, wears only his underwear. In one scene, Ralph disrobes an unconscious space commander to steal his suit.

Language

Rude humor and frequent name-calling includes insults like "I hate you," "shut your chew hole," "brat," "pussy willows," "doody," and "numbskull." The song "Shut Up and Drive" by Rihanna plays during one scene. Other iffy language includes "frickishly" and "butt load."

Consumerism

Iconic video game characters -- like Pac-Man, Bowser, and Sonic the Hedgehog -- make cameo appearances. There are also many references to candy/cookie/sweets brands (Oreo, Devil Dogs, NesQuick, Laffy Taffy, Mentos, etc.).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, a game character pours himself a martini. Another scene takes place in a game called Tappers, in which characters drink root beer from beer mugs. Characters are also briefly seen drinking at a dance party.

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?

QUALITY
 

Similarly to 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. Kids, adults, gamers, and tech newbies alike 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.

That's not to say that there aren't 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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 2, 2012
DVD release date: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
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some rude humor and mild action/violence

This review of Wreck-It Ralph was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bycourtwork November 20, 2012
 

This movie could be the poster child for what is wrong with media "for children" today

I think this movie is awful and I don't recommend it for anyone, especially children. In fact, it embodies most of the things I try to avoid for my kids: violence, sexual typecasting and innuendo, glorified verbal abuse and unkind behavior, comedy at the expense of others, lying and cheating to win, disrespect of elders, disrespect of authority, etc. Commonsensemedia missed the boat entirely on the rating of this film in my opinion. The word that comes to mind is gratuitous. The lack of taste with which this movie was made was very distracting from the plot, for me. The characters are demeaning and rude to each other. All females are portrayed as harsh and rude or prudish and rude. One of the female characters is decked in a skin tight costume with giant breasts, tiny waist, and round hips and thighs. She is carrying an automatic weapon and leads the assault team in her video game to kill the enemy with an abundance of verbal abrasiveness. Why is she like this? Because her fiance is killed on their wedding day by a giant evil bug, so she is now bitter and violent. And of course, the nice guy falls in love with her. The more she abuses him, the deeper he falls. Is this really what we want to model for our kids? Why is that so popular in media today? The innocent sweet boy falls for the bitchy hot girl who mistreats him. what? In one game, there is a group of snarky girls who gang up on the outsider girl who is one of the "positive" role models of the movie. At the end, she says, "and for anyone who was ever mean to me... you will be executed." (gasp from the mean girls) and then she says, JUST KIDDING. The banter between the other main character – Ralph - and her is almost all antagonistic and demeaning - it is supposed to be funny but 7 year olds do not have the sophistication to understand this level of sarcasm. I understand it and I didn't find it funny, I found it distasteful. Most of the lines were intended for adults and I only laughed two or three times, as I found the movie mostly offensive. One of the “positive role model” scenes is when Ralph gives a giant cherry to a homeless video game character. The catch is that he stole the cherries in the first place. And just before this Ralph is stopped by security and the guy says something like do you have anything to say? And Ralph says “yeah, I hate you.” and the security guy says, "yeah, we get that a lot.” There is another scene where a character is comparing an obsolete video game to his "Nana" saying disparaging things about having to put her out to pasture and get rid of her. Again, 7 year olds don't need to be introduced to the concept of disrespecting their grandparents. Most 7 year olds adore their grandparents. There are so many inappropriate scenes; I would say that the majority of the movie is inappropriate for children for one reason or another. It is ALARMING to me that this movie is billed as a movie for small children. What are we thinking???? This movie contributes to the phenomenon in this country known as age compression, where children are exposed to concepts in media that they do not have the maturity to process. They begin to emulate the complicated dynamics of sexual behavior, mean girls, and sick romance at younger and younger ages, and they don't understand any of it. Parents need to be aware that movies like "Wreck It Ralph" are not made for the enrichment of children, they are made for profit by people who don't really care about children. I think the story line idea is creative and some of the concepts are creative; this movie could have been good. Unfortunately the movie is so vulgarized and degraded by the content that the creativity is overshadowed, in my opinion. This movie is not "FOR" kids, it is made "FOR" money at the expense of kids. I would suggest skipping this one altogether.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byKarmaCat November 4, 2012
 

Great for adults and older kids... not so much for the wee ones.

Let me start my review by stating that my household is big-time into video games, both modern and old school. I took my kids to this movie because I knew they would love seeing Q-Bert, Pac Man, Sonic, etc. and would get a kick out of the video game setting for the storyline. And the beginning of the movie was great. We were all laughing and thoroughly enamored with the storyline. They've created some really likeable characters in really clever scenes. It was great. Then the movie suddenly became incredibly violent. As in, in-your-face, really-scary, larger-than-life violent. And it wasn't just the man-eating alien bugs and the machine guns blasting repeatedly in the screen. Characters also were hitting each other, treating each other terribly, and destroying the things that made others happy. At about this point, my 6-year-old had a total meltdown and had to be taken out of the theater. We tried bringing him back later, but that only lasted about two minutes before he was terrified and crying inconsolably again. He had to leave for good at that point, which was a good thing because it only got worse after he left. The 7-year-old next to us started crying at that point and begged his mom to let him go home. Some of the parts that were particularly upsetting: massive machine gun attacks, Ralph smashing up Vanellope's beloved racecar while she cried and screamed at him begging him to stop, the buxom blonde machine gun woman beating the @#$% out of Felix while the candy vines laughed (she actually knocked out his teeth), a giant alien insect crashing through a glass window and murdering a groom at the altar on his wedding day, King Candy holding Ralph's head and telling him he was going to force him to watch while his best friend died... And the big screen made all of these scenes rather intense. The smaller kids just couldn't handle it. Now, my 8-year-old was better equipped to deal with the intensity of these scenes and ended up really enjoying the movie--which truly did have a great message at the end. And from an adult perspective, I loved it. I even cried at the end! So for grown-ups and older kids, I'd definitely give it a thumbs up. But I kind of wish I hadn't wasted the money and traumatized my younger child by bringing him to this particular movie. If you have younger kids--especially if they are sensitive to violence and characters treating one another unkindly--you may be better off waiting until this one is out on DVD so that you can watch it at home without the intensity of the movie theater, and where you can just turn it off if it becomes too overwhelming.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Parent Written byPDXSherri November 2, 2012
 

Bummer...

Save your money... not worth it! Very violent. The message is there but so saturated with violence - it is lost.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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