From Disney Animation comes Wreck-It Ralph, the story of a bad guy who just wants a little recognition for his abilities, starring the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch. Is this film a fantastic addition to the Disney catalog of animation tradition or does it just pander to the geek and gamer audience?
For thirty years, Wreck-It Ralph has been the “bad guy” in the arcade video game, “Fix-It Felix Jr”. He’s nine feet tall and weighs 600 lbs. He has only one talent in life and that is the uncanny ability of destroying things with his colossally huge hands, especially the luxury high rise apartment he blames for moving his stump. The “good guy” is Fix-It Felix Jr., the game’s namesake. Armed with a special golden hammer that his father gave him, Felix instantly fixes whatever Ralph breaks. For his reward, the tenants give Felix pies and medals. Sad and lonely, Ralph goes to sleep every night in his pile of garbage as the rest of the game’s characters honor Felix with parties, cake, and fireworks.
On the game’s 30th anniversary, a huge party is going on in the penthouse apartment. Everyone is invited to the celebration except for Ralph, so he decides to invite himself over for cake. The tenants in the penthouse tell him that he is not welcome and only heroes with medals have the right to be there. Ralph leaves and decides to head over to “Root Beer Tapper” to enjoy a cold one and drown his sorrow. At the bar he runs into a space marine from the first person shooter game, “Hero’s Duty.” He informs Ralph that it’s the scariest game in the arcade and it’s not even worth the danger of winning a medal. Ralph figures then that since he no longer wants to be the bad guy anymore, he is going to game jump into “Hero’s Duty” and win himself a medal. Can Ralph survive the insect armageddon, a sugar coated speedway, and a glitchy female racer wannabe to gain the respect from his fellow game characters?
The moment I saw the trailers for Wreck-It Ralph I was intrigued. As a gamer, I was fascinated to see Pac-Man Ghosts, Bowser, M. Bison, and Dr. Robotnik together in one room. It was like the Who Framed Roger Rabbit treatment for video games. Of course I was a bit skeptical if Disney would be able to pull it off by properly giving the characters not only the attention to detail but also the proper homage they deserve.
Well rest assured, because the folks at Disney Animation studios knocked it out of the park. The movie caught the exact spirit of all the characters we loved from our trips to the arcade. You’ll see perfect representations from the actual characters on screen to the spot-on exact game cabinets in flashback sequences. Wreck-It Ralph is to video games what Toy Story is to toys. You’ll spend the whole movie pointing out all the characters and games you recognize and you won’t be able to catch them all. For that, you’ll have to wait until Blu-ray to hit the pause button to see everyone you missed. I also couldn’t help but think that the old man that runs the arcade in the movie, reminded of a caricature of Walter Day, the founder of Twin Galaxies. (Note: Watch the King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) But the movie is more than just throwing all of our favorite old school games onto the silver screen. The movie has a cute story for the whole family with fun original characters.
John C. Reilly (Step Brothers/Talladega Nights) is the voice of Ralph. He gives Ralph a bit of a gentle giant feeling to his character. He is lovable but just misunderstood because people fear him and consider him a bit of a freak of nature. It was like Andre the Giant’s performance in The Princess Bride. Along the way of his game hopping Ralph meets Vanellope von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman. She is a cute yet bratty little girl from “Sugar Rush Speedway.” Imagine the board game Candy Land puked all over Mario Kart and then was invaded by Strawberry Shortcake. Like Ralph, Vanellope is also a bit of an outcast because her programming has made her glitch. The rest of the “Sugar Rush Speedway” characters wont let her race with them in fear of getting their game unplugged. The relationship between Ralph and Vanellope reminded me that of Sully and Boo from Monsters Inc., only if Boo was a bit more older. Little girls who watch the film will absolutely adore the “Sugar Rush Speedway” levels of the movie.
The “Good Guys” of the movie are Fix-It Felix and Sergeant Calhoun voiced by Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch. The animators must have video recorded the actors as they read their lines, because when you watch the film you totally recognize the exact facial expressions and mannerisms of the actors themselves. Both characters were perfectly cast. McBrayer comes of as an innocent country bumpkin just like he portrays on NBC’s 30 Rock. Lynch was an absolute brilliant choice the leader of the space marines. Just imagine her character, Sue Sylvester, from Glee wearing Halo’s Master Chief Armor.
I cannot explain in words just how amazingly the look and sounds of each game world was represented. “Hero’s Duty” had the techno battle dub-step music from Skrillix to match it’s high definition graphics. “Sugar Rush Speedway” was filled with amazing candy themed race tracks with a J-Pop theme song from AKB48. “Fix-It Felix Jr.” had the 8 bit graphics, the Donkey Kong style cabinet, and the chip tune music. What I really loved is how the movie would transition between the real world through the glass of the arcade game cabinets. Speaking of visuals, I totally recommend seeing the film in 3D. The movie works so well in 3D from the 3rd person perspective of Kart racing to the Starship Troopers level of bug shooting.
If you could already tell by the previous paragraphs, I absolutely loved and would highly recommend seeing Wreck-It Ralph. Boys, girls, non-gamers, and kids-at-heart will all enjoy the film. It pays as much homage to gaming as Scott Pilgrim VS The World if not more and at levels easier understood by non-gamers. If you are looking for a wonderful movie to take the family to (or even if you don’t have kids), go see Wreck-It Ralph in theaters November 2.
P.S. Stay till the absolute end of the credits to see the ultimate video game reference the filmmakers included. If you have seen the King of Kong, you instantly get it.
In Theaters: November 2, 2012
Runtime: 98 min
Rating: PG for some rude humor and mild action/violence.
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch
Genre: Action/Adventure, Animated
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Official Site: http://disney.go.com/wreck-it-ralph