The local Police Athletic League was sponsoring movies at the nearby Madison Theatre Monday morning, $3 for kids, $5 for adults, and this included a small popcorn and a drink. There were three PG-rated choices playing: Life of Pi, which I thought might be too intense for the Daughter; Parental Guidance, with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, which was the most attended, but not something I particularly wanted to see; and the animated Disney film Wreck-It Ralph. The cartoon won out.
There was an utterly charming animated short called Paperman, which was done with no dialogue whatsoever; one of the best pieces I’ve seen in a while. No wonder it’s Oscar-nominated for best animated short.
Wreck-It Ralph is about an arcade video game called Fix-It Felix; think Donkey Kong or maybe Mario Brothers. Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) wrecks and and Felix (Jack McBrayer, sounding a bit like Kenneth from 30 Rock, only a little more confident) fixes an apartment building. At the end of the day, the folks in the apartment building fete Felix. Meanwhile, Ralph lives alone in the dump. How can a game’s bad guy get more respect, maybe become a hero?
Ralph leaves his game for another one and creates chaos, especially for Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch, sounding like Sue Sylvester from Glee, if she were armed like Rambo). Ralph does have some accidental success – catch Dennis Haysbert in a cameo – but then ends up yet in another game, having to negotiate with little Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) and King Candy (Alan Tudyk). If Ralph doesn’t get back to his own game soon, it might be unplugged forever.
It’s rather clear that, in this film, Disney is trying to create that layered, interconnected universe, in this case, of arcade games, that is typical of the Pixar movies. It works well much of the time. One does not have to be an affectionado of video games to understand it, but it wouldn’t hurt. So adults as well as children can appreciate it. The art and voices are great, and it’s no surprise that the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Picture. Check out the trailer.
The movie started later than its scheduled 10 a.m. start time, and I managed to miss President Obama’s entire inaugural speech. Fortunately, I could see it online. It was a great speech, as Chuck Miller will attest. I particularly liked the “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall” part.