Friday, November 16, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph, A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair
Wreck-It Ralph

For audiences of a certain age (mine), Disney Animation's "Wreck-It Ralph" will evoke memories of insouciant hours pumping quarters into Moon Cresta and Astro Blaster and Kangaroo. There's a good deal of visual wit and much to entertain the eye in this story of a video game bad guy (John C. Reilly, a perfect fit for the overgrown Ralph) who wants to break the program and do good for once. Reilly has a nice comic rapport with Sarah Silverman as the "glitch" in a candy-coated cart-race game called "Sugar Rush" across the arcade aisle. "Wreck-It Ralph" bogs down in too much wearying plot - a detour into a generic shoot-'em-up game called Hero's Duty goes nowhere - but its gentle, retro spirit just barely carries the day.

At 137 minutes, the belabored Danish romantic drama "A Royal Affair" has about an hour more runtime than it has substance. Borderline nutbag King Christian VII is barely tolerated, let alone respected or obeyed, by the Council that actually wields power in Copenhagen. They arrange for him to marry an Englishwoman with the not-very-English name of Caroline Mathilde. But when she commences a clandestine affair with the country doctor who's become the king's personal physician (and convinced the king to introduce progressive Enlightenment policies), certain members of the court see opportunities for their own political advancement.

The love story at the core of "A Royal Affair" is tepid and corset-bound. The most interesting element is the palace intrigue and behind-the-scenes maneuvering that renders the romance so fraught with peril. But there's not enough of it to recommend the picture. Instead, I'd point you to a gem from 1996, Patrice Leconte's Oscar-nominated "Ridicule," with a strong lead performance by Fanny Ardant.

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