Directed by: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk
Running Time: 2 hrs
Release Date: November 2, 2012
PLOT: Ralph (Reilly) is a video game villain who wants to be a hero. Unfortunately most of his attempts lead to havoc, which might destroy the whole arcade.
WHO’S IT FOR? It’s perfect for kids who have ever been made to feel like a bully outcast, and pretty good for any social outcast. Liking video games helps, but shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
I am now a father. It’s been five days. So now, I think about every movie in terms of being a dad. So with that in mind … just kidding. I’m not going to be one of those film critics who completely change the way they look at films just because I now have a son … I’m not going to let my views of cinema alter until he’s old enough to attend movies with me. I already have a plan. Once he can pass the test of sitting in a dark room at home, focusing, watching an entire movie without asking any questions, he’s allowed to visit a movie theater. I assume it will be about five years. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Wreck-It Ralph. My kid will one day see it.
At first, Wreck-It Ralph seemed to lack focus, much like this review. The overall concept was clear, but the path wasn’t. Ralph was viewed as the bad guy, but wanted to be good. The rest of the film seemed scattered. Fix-It Felix (McBrayer) was the hero of this video game and had his followers. Ralph didn’t want to live on a pile of trash anymore, he wanted friends and a chance to prove he’s been mislabeled. The messy part of this movie comes in to play when Ralph goes wandering around, looking for a way to prove he can be a hero. Eventually he ends up at a game called “Sugar Rush” and meets Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman). She’s been nicknamed glitch, because she’s a computer glitch within the game. She’s also pretty annoying. For about a half hour I lost a little focus as we jumped from Ralph and Vanellope back to Felix and his potential love interest Sergeant Calhoun (Lynch). Luckily, something wonderful happened. The movie got better. It gets better!
The longer the film goes on, the more heart is included in the story. Suddenly Vanellope isn’t annoying, she’s misunderstood (isn’t that always the case?). King Candy (Tudyk) is one or our main villains here. I assume he was doing an homage to the late, great Ed Wynn. I’m most familiar with Wynn’s work as Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. The most impressive moment of Wreck-It Ralph for me is when King Candy explains himself to Ralph, and actually makes what seems like a very good point. There is a method to his madness, for a while.
Sure some video game references help pass the time, like Sonic the Hedgehog or Bowser making cameos, but it’s a weird mix of having a good fictional story to focus on, with all new characters, then back to real-world video game references and a huge arcade world that seems barely explored.
It’s a blended Shrek and Toy Story. “Look, it’s Mr. Potato Head,” is now replaced with, “Look, it’s Q-bert.” Ralph is just a reworked Shrek, but instead of trying to avoid being a hero, he’s desperate for it. The message of, “You can’t choose who you are,” turns out to be false. I know, shocking. Thankfully it’s done with just enough humor, a very creative world, and characters who prove to have enough heart. So, in conclusion, I am a father. So now you can fully trust me when I say things like Wreck-It Ralph is fun for the whole family, even though my family won’t find that out for another five years.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10