As they approach the thirtieth anniversary of their game, Wreck-It Ralph grows tired of playing the villain to popular good guy, Fix-It Felix. He decides to switch things up and sets out on an adventure in hopes of earning a medal of honor that will help improve his station in life at the arcade.
Wreck-It Ralph is the 52nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and was executive produced by John Lasseter (he of Disney, Lucasfilm, and Pixar fame). In other words, Ralph has serious muscle and it shows in the all-star cast, tight script and sharply saturated graphics.
John C. Reilly shines as Ralph, a giant bad guy with the proverbial heart of gold. Sarah Silverman is in her element as Vanellope von Schweetz, a bossy 9-year old with a penchant for potty humor. Jane Lynch brings her Glee sass to the character of butt-kicking Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun, the leader of neighbor arcade game Hero’s Duty. It doesn’t matter whether Jack McBrayer is playing a page on 30 Rock, a newlywed in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or cartoon hero Felix – he’s the same damn character every time, but that familiar voice will still make you smile. Mindy Kaling has a small but hilarious role as Taffyta Muttonfudge, Vanellope’s nemesis in their shared land of Sugar Rush.
Adults familiar with video games from the 80’s will get a kick out of the arcade character cameos – everyone from Pac-Man, Q*bert, Frogger, to Bowser from Super Mario Bros. shows up. Fix-It Felix is in fact a nod to that era, with similar graphics and simple game goals. Folks will also appreciate the more grown up-aspects of Ralph’s Bad-Anon support group and the beer-slinging bartender in the game Tapper.
Sharing is caring!
Ralph is in for a big surprise when he leaves the safety of Fix-It Felix to visit the violent world of Hero’s Duty in search of his medal. But this is still a Disney flick and Ralph does not stay in Hero’s Duty for long before he’s off to Sugar Rush where all the kiddos live. Ralph understandably can’t explore the dark side for an extended period, given the target audience. Happily Sergeant Calhoun does get to follow Ralph to Sugar Rush, lending a welcome rough element to offset the sweetness. (The Sugar Rush backdrop is indeed uber-saccharine. Think Katy Perry a la “California Gurls” – umm, minus the bra that sprays whip cream.) If it weren’t for Jane Lynch’s Sgt. Calhoun, Sugar Rush would simply be too much for most adults to stomach.
Yes, Ralph does befriend 9-year old Vanellope in this candy land – because what Disney movie is complete without a young child taking charge while simultaneously getting saved? At least she’s a video glitch instead of an orphan, but it’s still a very familiar formula. The plot device works – but given the fresh concept of a behind-the-scenes peek at the secret life of arcade characters, it would be nice if the ending were a little less cookie cutter. Ralph’s world is wild and fun, but ultimately I still hoped for more.
Wow, Vanellope’s all grown up! [GIF credit]
Wreck-It Ralph will thrill in the moment, but won’t end up a classic. It’s definitely worth a look, but most moviegoers won’t visit Ralph and company again after leaving the theater.
*A special 3-D note: I made an effort to see the film in 3-D and I was surprised to realize that it didn’t seem to make a difference. The plus is that the animation is already astoundingly rich, even without the extra visual layer. The minus is that it seems like a wasted opportunity to take 3-D over the top.
Thanks for bringing some naughty to the nice.
Take a Drink: every time Ralph wrecks something!
Take a Drink: every time Vanellope alludes to feces. Hey, it was her idea – not mine.
Take a Drink: for every original tune that you hear in the background.
Take a Drink: when you spot Skrillex DJing a party.
Take a Drink: every time you think, “What’s Kenneth the Page doing in the middle of my movie?”
There are no extra scenes. The credits are fun, but no need to stick around. In other words, game over! Yep, I had to go there.