Have you seen the new movie, Wreck-It Ralph? You should. I found it funny, entertaining, and a breath of fresh air in the world of re-done movies and predictable plots, especially for an animated kid’s film.
I’ve always liked kid’s movies. Not only do they remind me of the carefree time of childhood, but they are lighthearted and fun to watch, they are great on a snowy afternoon with a cup of hot cocoa, and they teach fundamental lessons in really cute and memorable ways. A good kid’s movie will make you laugh without making you feel like a fool for watching it as an adult, and you don’t have super-complicated story lines or all the nastiness of things like murder or adultery or betrayal. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good thriller or horror or suspense drama, but sometimes I just need a little more color and feel-goodness in my life.
Back to Wreck-It Ralph.
It was a great movie, and as I left the theater I realized it had several really great lessons weaved into it. I felt compelled to share them (in no particular order).
Lesson #1: Be true to yourself.
In the movie, Ralph is the “bad guy” of his game. He attends a support group for fellow video game villains, who try to convince him that he must come to accept his “bad guy” status and that he can’t be the “good guy.” Upon returning to his game and being wholly rejected by the other characters, he sets out on a journey to win a medal and prove that he can indeed be a “good guy.”
To make a long story short, by the end of the movie Ralph returns to his game and resumes his position as the “bad guy.” But this time he’s happier than he was at the beginning, because he realizes that just because he’s the villain of his game doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy in nature. The lesson here is to not let your situation become your identity. Yes, Ralph is stuck being the “bad guy” of the game, but that doesn’t define who he is, what his personality is like, or what kind of friend he can be. Similarly, don’t let your situation, your job, or anyone else in your life decide who you are. Be true to yourself and let your own heart and personality shine through.
This same lesson shines through in the other prominent character, Vanellope Von Schweetz, but that would spoil too much of the movie, so I’ll leave you to discover that one for yourself.
Lesson #2: People (and friends) are more important to happiness than gold (money and rewards).
To prove he’s a “good guy,” Ralph must win a gold medal (which he does). He believe this is the only way to convince everyone he isn’t a bad guy, and ends up sacrificing a friendship and crushing a girl’s dreams in order to win this medal back. But guilt can be a powerful thing, and Ralph proves that you don’t need a gold medal to prove you are a good guy–all you need is a big heart and some good friends to know that you are a good person.
Lesson #3: Treat everyone with respect and gratitude.
The townspeople in Ralph’s game are mean and degrading to him, and completely reject him as a person. Once he leaves the game to win his medal though, the entire game is unplayable and is placed “Out of Order” by the arcade attendant. This means that the game could be unplugged and all those characters would have no where to go. Even though the townspeople don’t like Ralph, they didn’t realize how important his job really is. By forcing him out, they hurt themselves too.
The lesson here is to be grateful to everyone, no matter who they are or what their job is. Everyone deserves a little respect and courtesy. Not only does this make you a good person, but being grateful can make someone’s day, and you never know when they may just return the favor.
So go enjoy your favorite kid movie or old school video game and learn a little something (or at least be reminded of these lessons we all learn as kids but often forget). Have fun!