"Wreck-It Ralph," the video game-inspired feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios, hits theaters today. Adults accompanying children to the theater this weekend should note that some of the movie's jokes and references will go over their heads if they aren't well-versed in video game culture.
There's no easy way to explain many of the inside jokes.
For instance, Ralph himself is a hybrid of Donkey Kong and characters of the arcade classic "Rampage," but if you don't know those games, it will be hard to understand the movie's subtle nods to a geek's passions.
Think of these references in the way you might relate to the occasionally adult-themed humor of the "Shrek" movies, which like "Wreck-It Ralph" carry a PG rating.
Lines such as Shrek's, "Do you think he's compensating for something?" at the sight of Lord Farquaard's enormous castle, or the police camera footage of Puss in Boots having his catnip confiscated in the sequel, were lost on much of the young audience of the "Shrek" series. "Wreck-It Ralph" reverses the roles.
Now the gaming crowd can appreciate homages to modern shooters such as "Call of Duty," "Metal Gear Solid" and "Root Beer Tapper" (the first two are rated M for Mature), while nongamers must get along without the benefit of subtext.
Like the "Shrek" movies, "Wreck-It Ralph" provides laughs and entertainment for all ages, but there's no doubt it rewards gaming knowledge. For those in the know, be sure to stick around until the end of the credits to see a clever little addition, just for the hard-core geeks.
Max Parker, the PG's Game Guy. Follow his blog at communityvoices.sites.post-gazette.com and on Twitter at @GameGuyPGH.