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DIRECTOR: Rich Moore RELEASE DATE (US): November 2, 2012 RATING: PG
CAST: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, et al.
// review by Beverley

Far from wrecked.

In Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre claimed that one cannot possibly see themselves as evil unless through the view of an Other. It would be impossible for someone to see themselves as evil independent of an Other because for one, one must reduce themselves only to being evil -- one single possibility out of the millions of possibilities one can be -- which is essentially impossible because no human being can be only one finite thing, and secondly, one has to see themselves as being the opposite of everything they believe to b good. To label oneself as evil would necessitate hating oneself. Wreck-It Ralph is the story of one person who finds himself in this exact situation, set to the theme of video games.

In this digitally animated Disney film, Wreck-It Ralph plays the villain in a retro arcade game, but because of his status as the villain of the game, he is isolated from other members of his game and his community. He is constantly reminded of his "bad guy" status and beings to internalize the judgements placed on him.

It is because of this that Ralph begins to dislike himself, to wonder what is wrong with him and why he is rejected by NPCs and the game's hero alike. He goes to a counselling group where legendary video game baddies such as Bowser, Zangief, Clyde the Ghost, M. Bison, and Dr., Eggman. One zombie gives him useful advice about avoiding labels, which Sartre would describe as reducing the for-itself (a free human being who can make any choice about their lives they please) to an in-itself (a sedentary object with only one aspect). Another character seems to have internalized his determined nature and lack of freedom (which Sartre would describe as bad faith) saying "you can't change the program."

Ralph overcomes the limits imposed by the NPCs, however, and decides he will take the direction of his life into his own hands. He decides he is what Sartre calls a for-itself: a free human being with the power to change the direction of his life however he chooses, one who is not just limited to one way of understanding himself. This why he decides he will embark on a journey to become the hero of a new game.

Needless to say, I was impressed both with the excellent illustration of philosophical concepts, but also with the sheer awesomeness of this gaming-inspired world. The graphics were amazing, voice acting and music were impressive, and I enjoyed the cast of characters, especially Vanellope Von Schweetz and Sergeant Calhoun because they showed two non-traditional female roles with fairy complex personalities. While on the subject of female representation I should also add the movie passed the Bechdel test. Congratulations!

Long after this movie was over I found myself still immersed in the world it has created, imagining all the different problems and experiences that could arise. You'll have to forgive me, but a nerdishly delicious digitally animated film about an anti-villain with existentialist undertones is just so captivating for me that I think I will give it a score just below my other favourite movie of all time, Megamind. I hope I don't find a movie that fits just between those two or else I don't know what I will do!


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