Sunday, November 11, 2012

Overthinking movies (again)

We've already been to see Wreck-it Ralph twice.  Yes, in theaters.  Because it's just that good.  Well-animated, well-written, with a stellar voice cast and all sorts of visual shout-outs to gamers old and new.




OK, I have to admit my favorite part of the movie is the unlikely romance between Fix-it Felix, Jr. and Sgt. Calhoun.  The two are just adorable together.  I've been trying to sort out just what it is about this couple that makes them so endearing.

The first and funniest thing: Calhoun is more than double Felix's height, and has notably more realistic character design.  You can tell Felix's shortness makes an early impression on Calhoun ("Slick tiddlywinking, pint-size"), but Felix honestly doesn't seem to notice or care -- all he sees is her amazing high-definition face, her heroic demeanor and her devotion to duty despite being programmed with a broken heart.

They might seem like polar opposites, but in fact Felix and Calhoun have several things in common.  Both are heroes and "good guys" in their respective game worlds.  Both are used to saving others from danger every day -- Felix by fixing the damage Ralph does, Calhoun by saving the universe from Cy-bug destruction.  Both are very good at what they do.  Both are used to being seen as the embodiment of their jobs by other entities in their respective game worlds.

Even though Felix is way, way out of his element in Hero's Duty, he almost immediately notes Calhoun's place in her world and perceives the two of them as equals.  This is part of the reason why he's so indignant about the way he was treated -- "She gives me the honeyglow something awful... but she rebuffed my affections!"  Felix is accustomed to being petted and treated as a hero in his own game, and he fully expects Calhoun to reciprocate when he reveals his feelings for her.  Instead he's left bewildered and a little hurt at her PTSD-related ferocity when she literally drops him.  But he's a hero, and heroes always get up and try again.

Maybe the thing I like most about this story is that it takes the whole stupid "nice guys finish last" idea and grinds it thoroughly into the turf.  Felix is every bit the old-style gentleman, sweet as pie right down to the little Southern accent, without being a doormat.  He's supremely confident in his ability to fix things, always tries to do the right thing, never uses language any rougher than "boo", always calls Calhoun "ma'am," does what he can to rescue her from danger even though she's never been the damsel-in-distress type, and doesn't even try to disguise his feelings for her.  He's the only one in any game world who looks past the outer persona of the hard-as-nails sergeant saving the universe from annihilation -- that's just her job -- to the sweetheart beneath the armored shell, his dynamite gal.  In the end, I think that's why she falls for him -- because he's more than a caricature of tough-guy manhood, and his vision of her allows her to be more than she was programmed to be.

Yeah, I believe I already mentioned I was overthinking this one.

ETA: I've seen several comments suggesting that Fix-it Felix is meant to be Mormon.  Let's see here -- he's as clean-cut and friendly as a Boy Scout, he helps his neighbors, he's prepared for emergencies, he doesn't swear, he calls Ralph "Brother" at one point, he speaks a foreign language, and he even does a door approach (well, of sorts) in the film.

I approve this message.

No comments: