Friday, November 9, 2012

Top shelf.

Then you better start swimmin', or you'll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin'.

When we headed to the movies this past Wednesday night, my wife and I noticed that a mainstay of the mall, the arcade, had closed up and was now vacant. And while this is rather inconsequential for either of us, our three-year old son was saddened, despite thinking it was simply closed, as we so often tell him.  A week ago it seemed like the arcade would outlast a Skynet attack, but the mall recently instituted a ban on unaccompanied minors under the age of 18. The arcade had joined the ever-growing list of childhood things likely never to be heard from again.

Coincidentally, we were taking him to see Disney's latest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. It was our fourth anniversary and we thought it would be fun to take the little guy to the movies. He's three, and has already developed an interest in video games (the kid loves Skylanders), should I say unfortunately?, so we thought this would be perfect for him. And while it didn't hold his interest the whole time, the wife and I were enamored. This is a very sweet and charming film.

Ralph is a miserable and misunderstood guy relegated to a life he has grown tired of. Like many of us, his days are incredibly repetitive and uninspired. He's a bad guy. But, as Zangief puts it, heeez not a baaad guy. Simply put, Ralph is tired of being alone. Despite his initial quest being greedy and self-centered, ultimately Ralph finds meaning and a place in the world. And by that, I mean, he finds family. And as any parent will sigh and then tell you, that really is all that matters.

Initially, I was, considering my age, horribly excited to see numerous game characters from my youth sharing the big screen. I know, what a dork - but it was like my fifth grade dreams come true. After about twenty minutes though, the movie abandons the nostalgia factor, and settles into a weird ode to candy and Mario Kart. Despite looking (and sounding) absolutely incredible, for a decent stretch, I was bummed. Where were all the video game characters and references? I half-expected my son to yell Dad! This is a girl movieeeeeeeee! Fear not though, as each and every little moment builds to an incredibly satisfying conclusion. By the end, my wife and I were all smiles. My son? Well, he just wanted to go to Toys "R" Us. Kids.

Speaking of the little ones, let me round up the Yays and Boos. They've been playing Punch-Out!! for the past three and a half hours. They've been stuck on Piston Honda for ever.

How could you not invite this guy to your party?
  • The short film, Paperman, is brilliant. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous and sweet.
  • The 8-bit intro was very cool, as were the credits.
  • Though featured extensively in the trailers, the Bad-Anon support group scene was awesome. 
  • John C. Reilly is as good as he's ever been. Perfectly cast, no doubt.
  • The main terminal between all the games is great. Those scenes could have been two hours long, as I would have loved just to watch all the characters on their way to work. And yes, for the record, I'm a nerd. Huge one.
  • Roadblasters! I probably spent $100 playing that damn game as a kid. I regret nothing.
  • Though I'm not sure if I can stand him in large doses, Jack McBrayer shines. Fix It Felix is a great character. Love his expression as he gazes lovingly at Calhoun. Dynamite gal!
  • The car creation mini-game! 
  • Sugar Rush, though a bit heavy on the sugary pinks, was incredible to look at. I bet the 3D is stunning.
  • They go to Tapper's! I would like to shake the hand of the person who came up with that.
  • The score is awesome. 8-bit goodness, for sure.
  • And finally, the ending. Everything truly comes together perfectly.
Game Central Station is rad. I dug Surge Protector.
  • Product placement. I know, this is a ridiculous complaint on a thousand fronts, but that Subway cup should have been from Pizza Planet. Bastards.
  • I kinda hated King Candy. His security guards were cool, though.
  • Was that Darth Vader breathing a tribute or cross-promotion? Four billion. With a b. Insanity. Anyway...
  • And finally, I think I'm growing tired of Jane Lynch's tough bitch act. Sue Sylvester was enough.
The arcade, like the carefree nature of our early relationship, has faded into the distant past. My wife and I have been married for four years, but together for close to twelve. For years, we could do whatever we wanted to, whenever we felt like it. Now, that we have a son, things aren't at all the way the used to be.

Bob Dylan was right.


  1. Nice review M. I had a lot of fun with this movie and I can't wait to see what they do with the sequels. Hopefully, just hopefully, they get more games in here and actually include Mario.

    1. More would definitely be welcome. And believe me, I'm always rooting for more Mario.

  2. Skynet reference in a Wreck-It-Ralph review? Nice!

    Still haven't seen this, but I obviously can't wait.

    1. Looking forward to your review.
      Let's see if you can work in a relatively obscure reference as well.

      My vote is Anaconda. Yep.