Wreck-It Ralph (2012)


It’s “Make Your Mommas Proud” Time!

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)The sad realization I’ve had about doing my reviews is that I occasionally don’t seem to find the time to see the movies I actually want to watch because I’m too preoccupied reviewing movies that have been requested or that I just want to watch to make fun of.  Today’s movie is the former.  I really wanted to see this movie for a number of reasons.  It included the voices of many people I like, it is about something I revolve my life around, and it just looked good.  But I never managed to get to the theaters to see it.  When it came out on DVD later, I still didn’t get around to it.  My roommate even purchased it and I still put it off until he finally had to slap me in the face a number of times with his BluRay until I agreed to watch it.  And then I left it on my desk without watching it for a few times until I felt like my life was in danger if I didn’t get around to it.  What I’m saying is that I’m terrified of my roommate.  He’s mentally unstable and I need help.  And since none of you are rushing to my aid because you’re bad people, I’ll instead review Wreck-It Ralph, the new movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, directed by Rich Moore, and starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Rachael Harris, Edie McClurg, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Dennis Haysbert, Maurice LaMarche, and John DiMaggio.

When Litwak’s Arcade closes, the video game characters come to life.  …I KNEW IT!!  One of the older games in the arcade is a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., which is a Rampage rip-off where a giant monkey or lizard creature is replaced by a bad guy named Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), who wrecks a building, and the gamer must take control of Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) to fix it.  But 30 years of being the bad guy is taking its toll on Ralph, who just wants to be the good guy and get a shiny hero badge every once and a while.  Ralph sets off into the other game worlds to earn a medal, going to the new first-person shooter called Hero’s Duty and jumping into the team of Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch), where he is able to earn a badge.  He escapes in a pod, but accidentally takes a Cy-Bug creature with him, which causes him to crash in the saccharine sweet kart-racing game and lose his medal to a little, glitchy girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who wants it to join the race and become a playable character.  But Ralph’s absence does not go unnoticed.  Having no villain in the game is viewed as a malfunction by the owner of the arcade, and if Ralph doesn’t return, the plug will be pulled on the game.  Felix teams up with his new love interest, Sergeant Calhoun, to find Ralph before it’s too late.

Disney must’ve realized that Pixar was showing them up recently because they really seem to be stepping their game up.  I would put Wreck-It Ralph up against any Pixar movie as at least their equal, and that’s one hell of a compliment with some of the Pixar classics out there.  I loved Wreck-It Ralph, and there’s really no reason I should even bother acting surprised about that.  This movie was made for me, or at least born gamers like myself.  …But mostly for me specifically.  For a movie so full of hidden references as this one was, only the most dedicated of gamers will be able to get all of them, and I’m proud to say that I got them all.  And, coincidentally, I am also single.  They had the more obvious things like the Konami code in the game (Yes, I consider that to be something obvious; something everyone should know), but they also had smaller things you have to pay attention for, like graffiti saying “Aeris Lives” and a Leroy Jenkins reference.  But then they also had things that pained my nerdiness, like making Zangief a bad guy.  The only point where Zangief was a bad guy (to my recollection) was in the Street Fighter movie, and no one acknowledges that movie’s existence.  You just think he’s a bad guy because he’s Russian.  But it wasn’t all about the video game references for me.  I thought the story was very sweet, had a simple but good message, and actually made me laugh out loud multiple times.  Most of the things that made me laugh were (arguably) horrible puns, though some of them were genius.  One character claims she has “Pixlexia”, they get trapped in “Nesquicksand”, and they had a Wizard of Oz/Oreos joke that I thought was great, even though I kind of saw it coming.  But I can’t hold that against them.  I AM a comedy genius, after all.  Also, I always thought that what the guards were saying in Wizard of Oz anyway.  But, just as important to the lasting effects of this movie as the comedy, this movie was very sweet.  Mostly involving the fatherly relationship between Ralph and Vanellope.  Also, the ending was sweet as all hell.  I’ve noticed recently that some movies don’t end the way you want them to because they want to be unpredictable.  This movie’s ending was perhaps predictable, but it was exactly the ending I wanted.  I left with a warm feeling in my heart.

Not much to say about the atmosphere of the movie.  It’s fantastic.  It captures every look it goes for.  And it’s interesting to see how they changed the atmosphere and design for each of the individual games.  Keep an eye out for that.

The entire cast of this movie killed it.  And most of them were people I loved going in.  John C. Reilly did a great job, but I found myself mostly focusing on everyone else.  Sarah Silverman killed it.  She was relentlessly adorable, like a female, human Wall-E.  I also love Jack McBrayer, but he was overshadowed by Jane Lynch, who was pretty funny with a pretty hilarious, tragic backstory.  I thought it would’ve been much more progressive if her character was getting married to a lady instead, but perhaps Disney isn’t quite ready to take a stand on the gay marriage situation.  They’re no Chick-fil-a.  Also, he may not have a huge part in the move, but the Ace Man himself, Adam Carolla, is in this movie a little!  That is so exciting to me.  But he wasn’t complaining, and that’s how I like my Ace Man.  I’ll stick to his podcast to get my Carolla fix.

Wreck-It Ralph was a movie that I should not have put off for as long as I did.  I regret missing it while it was in theaters, but hopefully I can make it up to the movie by purchasing it on BluRay now.  The story is sweet and funny enough for children and adults alike, and it’s chock full of things meant to please the nerdiest of gamers (me).  All of the performances were great, but Sarah Silverman stole my heart in this movie.  I think everyone should not only see this movie, but just go buy it right away.  If you don’t like it, then you’re a bad person and I feel no remorse for causing you to spend money on things you don’t appreciate.  Wreck-It Ralph gets “You’re a winner!” out of “And you’re adorable!”

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Arrested Development: Season One (2003)


Say What You Will About America; Thirteen Bucks Still Gets You a Hell of a Lot of Mice.

I don’t often get requests to review TV shows, which I generally regard as a blessing, since a review of a TV show can take quite some time and I’ve never found myself particularly good at it.  But, when today’s TV show was requested, I was actually quite happy about it.  Not happy about getting to write a review of it, as I’m not nearly as practiced at it as I am with movies and even video games.  What I was happy about was getting to watch the TV show.  I’d never seen a single episode of this show as I tend to not keep up with television that much, so much so that I actually cancelled my cable service because I could do without the greater majority of them.  But I’d heard so much about how awesome this TV show was I was happy to have a reason to watch it.  So happy, apparently, that I actually bombed through all 22 episodes of the first season in one day.  Let’s see if it can live up to the hype as I review the first season of Arrested Development, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, and starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Henry Winkler, Judy Greer, Liza Minnelli, Patricia Velásquez, Carl Weathers, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jay Johnston, Jerry Minor, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Justin Lee, Jane Lynch, James Lipton, and John Michael Higgins.

George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) retires as the founder and CEO of the Bluth Company and is promptly arrested for spending the company’s money on personal expenses.  Bluth’s wife, Lucille (Jessica Walter) takes over as CEO, naming her extremely sheltered youngest son, Buster (Tony Hale), the president.  The middle son – and the only son actually equipped to run a business – Michael (Jason Bateman) leaves the company as a result, but comes back when they all realize they need him, and because his own son, George Michael (Michael Cera) wants to stay with the family.  Mainly because he’s developed a crush on his cousin, Maeby (Alia Shawkat), daughter of Michael’s sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her husband Tobias (David Cross).  The majority of the family lives in one of the Bluth model homes, with the rest of them, including the oldest brother Gob (Will Arnett) the aspiring magician, visiting frequently to try to borrow money from Michael as he tries to save the company while not even knowing what his father got into.

I don’t know if I’d say that this show has lived up to the hype so far, but it’s certainly not the fault of the show.  From what I had heard, I half expected to be laughing non-stop while watching.  That wasn’t what happened, but I found the show to be extremely well written, very funny, and even funny enough to get me to laugh out loud on more than one occasion.  The first episode was a little disappointing, but it seemed to mainly be all of the setup to get all of the backstory out of the way, but they pick up their speed pretty quickly after that.  The jokes mainly come from how ridiculous the family are, and are often shown in quick cutaways, almost like a live action Family Guy.  And, more often than not, my favorite part of the episode was actually the very end, where they show scenes from the next episode that may or may not actually happen, but they work very well as rapid fire jokes.  And a lot of the jokes were pretty smart too.  I liked when Gob got literally stabbed in the back as Michael was figuratively stabbing him in the back.  I was also a fan of the part where a guy said to Michael, “If you care about your brother, you’ll get in the car,” and Michael said, “Which brother?” and then, when the guy answered, “Gob,” he kept riding away.  Later, when George Michael was trying to find out if he was actually related to Maeby and he asked Gob if Lindsay was ever pregnant, Gob answers, “Oh yeah, dozens of times.”  I also like the part where George Bluth was talking about his twin brother and says, “You should’ve seen his face,” but then remembers that they’re twins and shows him what the face looked like.  A lot of the jokes seemed extra smart and well thought out as so many of them come together in the final episode, though this could’ve been done without planning to do it before hand.  I also liked a lot of the jokes that went on in the background, like when Gob was complaining about his girlfriend the Mexican soap opera star and saying that he’d kill someone if he ever had to smell some Mexican dish again, and the maid in the background closes her Tupperware that she was eating out of.  The story was never super important to the quality of the show, but there were a couple of reveals that were pretty obvious.  The whole part about “there always being money in the banana stand” could be seen coming from miles away, as well as the part about the blind lawyer being the Bluth’s opposing prosecutor in the trial.  Hell, they even outright spoil one themselves in the scenes from the next episode by saying that the lawyer isn’t really blind, but they say so many things in those next episode sequences that I didn’t know if it was true or a joke.  If it sounds like I’m just listing some of my favorite jokes from the show … well, I am.  But the show is well-written and funny, so you should watch it.

I liked all the performances in the show as well.  The greater majority of them are people that I liked going in, so it’s not really a surprise to me.  Jason Bateman plays a fantastic straight man, though he’s not above getting a little wacky himself.  It’s not too necessary in this show as his family does the bulk of the goofiness.  I was torn on the rest of the family for a while since most of them seemed like such unlikeable people I didn’t know why I’d want to spend time with them.  But you warm up to them fairly quickly.  I warmed up to Portia de Rossi because she was hot, especially when she was being sprayed by water and dancing in a cage in one of the later episodes.  I warmed up to Will Arnett because I’ve always liked him, and because he was one of the characters that started a lot of the funniness.  He also had his real life wife Amy Poehler in a few episodes as the wife he eloped with, and I’m always happy to see her as well.  I didn’t know Tony Hale before this show, but he gets a lot of funniness out of his Buster character.  I liked that he was able to get laughs from things as simple as standing silently in the background of scenes.  David Cross did a great deal of the comedy as well, as his character seemed totally gay and totally eccentric.  I liked the little physical things he did, like when he rolled up on the stage at the school play, or when he licked the end of his pencil and then kept licking it like he liked the taste.  He also got to work with Bob Odenkirk again in one episode, and those guys are genius together.  Michael Cera was an odd one for me.  Not because his performance in this show was not dissimilar from many of his other characters, but because of his relationship with his cousin Alia Shawkat.  Even though his crush on his cousin is pretty inappropriate, I found myself kind of wishing they would end up together.  I also liked Judy Greer in her few appearances as the assistant to George Bluth.  She’s a pretty attractive lady and I thought it was pretty funny when Gob would have her take off her glasses and her eyes would go cross-eyed, and she’d let down her hair and it’d go all crazy, and later she got a boob job and her nipples seemed to be pointing in odd directions.  Another big thing about the show is all of the guest appearances.  Liza Minnelli was in a few episodes, and was pretty damned funny as well.  Henry Winkler was usually funny as the inept lawyer, and he even busted the Fonze move in one episode.  Jane Lynch, Heather Graham, Carl Weathers, and a bunch of other random guest appearances were also great.

I’m sure a crappy show could not have kept me interested enough to actually get through 22 episodes of the first season in one day, but that was thankfully not the case with Arrested Development.  It was extremely well-written, very funny, and with fantastic performances to back it all up.  I don’t want to do it too soon and have the next review follow too quickly, but I can’t wait to get into the second season.  And, since you can stream the whole thing on Netflix, I don’t know why you’re not doing it right now.  Turns out my Friendboss Josh isn’t so much of an asshole after all.  Arrested Development Season One gets “That was a good investment” out of “It was shoplifting and I’m white.  I think I’m going to be okay.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.