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Three things for consideration. 1) It’s entirely incidental, but I love the fact that the one person we see playing the ultra-violent, crazy run-and-gun game Hero’s Duty is an unfazed little girl in pink, whereas the two kids hogging the cloying Sugar Rush are rough, bullying boys. Someone actually thought about that and made a conscious decision to dodge stereotypes and do something unexpected, though not implausible.
2) Possibly my favorite moment in the film is just after King Candy explains to Ralph why Vanellope can’t race, which seems like an entirely reasonable story. At that moment, the film is in a place where it’s seemingly forgotten about Ralph’s home game and his search for respectability; he has his medal back, but it clearly doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s similarly abandoned the whole invading-virus-bug-of-doom story. And it seems like it’s about to leave the Vanellope-joins-the-race-squad plotline behind as well. As unlikely as it was that the film would fail to exploit and resolve all of these plotlines, there’s just one brief moment there where it’s really unclear where the story could meaningfully go next—which is a terrific accomplishment in a kids’ film.
3) I’m still torn on whether the moment where Ralph hurtles toward his seeming death fist-first, reciting the villains’ affirmation from his Bad-Anon group, is cheap in its open evocation of The Iron Giant’s “Superman” moment. It’s touching, but it would be more powerful if another film hadn’t done it first, and sweeter.