Wreck-It Ralph

Posted November 8, 2012 by in


Total Score

3.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: animation
Director: Rich Moore
MPAA Rating: PG
Actors: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk
Length: 108 minutes
Release Date: 11/02/2012
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios

What We Liked:

nostalgia-value for adults, bright colored animation for kids; good sense of humor

What We Disliked:

lacks emotional depth until halfway through, (but ending pays off!)
What We Thought

Wreck-It Ralph tells a story about a bad guy who learns what it means to become a hero.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article

If you take the premise of Toy Story, but replace the toys with video game characters, you’ll have Wreck-It Ralph, Disney’s latest computer-animated feature film.

During the day, everyone in Litwak’s Arcade does their job.  Ken and Ryu mix it up in Street Fighter II, while ghosts wander the maze in Pac-Man.  After the arcade closes, everyone goes home to their families.  Everyone but Wreck-It Ralph, who lives alone in a junkyard.

Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in Fix-it Felix, Jr.  It’s the 30th anniversary of the Fix-it Felix arcade game, and everyone is invited to the penthouse to celebrate.  Everyone but Ralph.  Even Pac-Man was invited.

Ralph crashes the party.  A special cake is made for the occasion, depicting Felix (Jack McBrayer) standing atop the building in the video game, wearing a gold medal.  Everyone likes Felix because he’s the good guy, and he’s the one who wins the medal.  Ralph tells the party guests that he will go and get a medal, and then they’ll have to like him.  They tell him there are no games where bad guys get medals, but that won’t stop Ralph.

Ralph jumps over to Hero’s Duty, a first-person shooter where space marines battle giant bugs in a futuristic world.  Ralph snatches the Hero’s Duty medal and gets away in an escape pod, and finally crash lands in Sugar Rush, a candy-themed racing game.  Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a punky little brat with candy sprinkle-crusted hair, makes off with his medal, and uses it as a counterfeit coin for the entry fare in the race.  Ralph has no choice but to help Vanellope win the race so he can get his medal back, but the ruler of Sugar Rush, King Candy, stands in their way.  King Candy (Alan Tudyk) won’t allow Ralph interfering with his world, much less Vanellope, who’s a video-game glitch.

The film has a lengthy, complicated setup, and doesn’t have deep emotional resonance until Ralph and Vanellope meet.  The heart of the movie is about how Ralph and Vanellope overcome their initial hostility and slowly become friends, realizing they’re a lot alike.  They’re both outsiders who want the same things; acceptance and recognition–things we all want.

Until they meet, Wreck-It Ralph coasts on humor and nostalgia.  Grown-ups who remember the arcade era are going to get a kick out of the world of Wreck-It Ralph.  Chun-Li strolls in the background, and Q-bert gets a few lines of the trademark @#$-speak that made him so recognizable.  There’s also a humorous early scene where various video game bad guys have an AA-style support group meeting.  “Just because you are bad guy doesn’t mean you are bad guy” Zangief offers.

Watch for the video-gamey touches to the movie; the citizens of the Fix-it Felix game have simple designs, and are animated in a deliberately jerky way, recalling how games only had a few frames of animation back in the early days of coin-op games.  In a humorous, video game-esque moment, Ralph accidentally kills Felix, who dies like something out of Super Mario Bros.  But it’s ok–he pops up good as new; he had an extra life.

While the animation is good, Wreck-It Ralph isn’t just eye candy (although there is a lot of candy in this movie, literally).  While it has broad, commercial value, it isn’t disposable children’s entertainment, like the Madagascars and Ice Ages of this year.  Wreck-It Ralph tells a story about a bad guy who learns what it means to become a hero.  And that has real, lasting value.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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