Wreck-It Ralph Directed by Rich Moore Written by Jennifer Lee, Phil Johnston Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk Walt Disney Pictures Rated PG | 108 Minutes Release Date: November 2, 2012
Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain of the classic arcade video game Fix-It Felix Jr., a Donkey Kong copycat in which the game’s eponymous hero (Jack McBrayer) repairs a building that Ralph destroys. For 30 years now, Ralph has been doing the same job and has grown tired of being the bad guy.
Wanting to prove he can be the heroic good guy, Ralph escapes his game and suits up in Hero’s Duty, a futuristic first-person shooter in there spirit of Halo. There, Ralph aids the game’s fearless leader, Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), battle against “Cy-Bugs,” the game’s extraterrestrial invaders.
After barely surviving his tour of Hero’s Duty, Ralph finds himself inside the arcade cabinet of Sugar Rush, a kart racing game (think Candyland meets Super Mario Kart) set on tracks made of candies, frosting, and other sugary sweets. There, he bumps into one of the game’s racers, the adorable (and annoying) Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who discovers her game is glitching – a doomsday scenario that could affect the entire arcade, and one that Ralph may have accidentally started.
Directed by Rich Moore (Futurama), Wreck-It Ralph has been in development at Disney in various forms since the ’80s. Similar to Disney’s 1988 film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Wreck-It Ralph features dozens of cameo appearances from licensed video game characters. Children of the ’80s will recognize old 8-bit (and 16-bit) pals like Q*bert, Paperboy, Dig Dug, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Bowser, and the gang from Street Fighter.
Wreck-It Ralph is a colorful, candy-coated blast from the past – a nostalgic journey down the rainbow road that does for video games what Toy Story did for playthings. Reilly and Silverman deliver fantastic performances while McBrayer and Lynch seem complacent in replicating their television counterparts: Kenneth Parcell on 30 Rock and Sue Sylvester on Glee, respectively.
The 8-bit generation will enjoy spotting all the references and cameos (I spotted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game cabinet!) while the latest crop of kids playing Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 will no doubt notice similarities to next generations games like Halo and Call of Duty. There’s something here for parents and children alike – a clever, entertaining film that dazzles with spectacular animation and an incredible ensemble of voice actors.
Those with a trained ear will hear Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Rachael Harris, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz – the list of actors goes on and on. Chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter (Toy Story) executive produced Wreck-It Ralph and proves that Disney Animation Studios can make quality films independent of the Pixar brand.
It’s been a pretty great year for animated movies: The Secret World Of Arrietty, ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, and we’ve still got the upcoming Dreamworks Animation release, Rise of the Guardians, to look forward to. While I personally enjoyed ParaNorman and Frankenweenie more than Wreck-It Ralph, it’s a charming little film that will no doubt get a few nominations for its glossy, colorful animation and fantastic voice acting.