Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman (voice talents)
Video game nerds unite as "Wreck-It Ralph" takes audiences inside the lives of characters living in "Fix-It Felix, Jr.", an old-school arcade game (think Atari's "Donkey Kong" meets "Rampage: World Tour). The game is simple: Ralph (Reilly) stands high atop an apartment building and wrecks things while Felix (McBrayer) hops around with his magic hammer and fixes things. The local residents, who are eternally indebted to Felix for his many years of service and heroism, reward Felix with a medal for his good deeds at the end of every game. On the other hand, Ralph - an integral part of the game, himself - lives in an adjacent landfill with no friends and no medals at all. You see, he's a bad guy - and nobody likes bad guys. This notion is further enforced by Ralph's frequent attendance at Bad Anon (an "AA"-type organization for video game villains). "We can't change who we are," comments one fellow Bad Anon member, "and the sooner you accept that, the better your game and your life will be." Depressed, Ralph searches for a way that he, a bad guy, might finally be accepted by his peers. He eventually resorts to something terribly taboo in the world of video games - "game jumping." Ralph decides that if he can't win a medal in "Fix-It Felix, Jr.", he will take the train over to other games in search of recognition. His journey for acceptance takes him to the worlds of two other games: "Hero's Duty" (think "Halo") and "Sugar Rush" (think "Mario Kart" meets "Candyland"). Meanwhile, Felix and friends realize that, without Ralph, their game is on the verge of extinction. While Ralph competes for his golden prize, Felix and a few friends (Lynch, Silverman) join forces to save their respective games - and also show Ralph that maybe there is a little good deep down inside of everybody.
The Story: At first glance, "Wreck-It Ralph" appears to be all about video games - and, to a large extent, it is. But viewers will be impressed by the heart-warming tale interwoven beneath all the humorously-embedded Easter eggs for life-long gamers. There's a moral to the story that viewers will be able to take away from the film, making the movie good for people of all ages, regardless of whether or not they know who Q-Bert is.
The Acting: The voice acting is superb from top to bottom, even including the lesser characters in the movie. Reilly and McBrayer are impeccable and so is Jane Lynch, who stars as the squadron commander in "Hero's Duty." Sarah Silverman, who is perhaps best known to this intended audience for her absolute dud of a role in "School of Rock," is good as the obnoxiously-annoying Vanellope von Schweetz. Also of note is Alan Tudyk, whose take on the diabolical King Candy sounds almost identical to Disney's famous Mad Hatter from the classic "Alice in Wonderland."
The Genre: Commercials and theatrical trailers for "Wreck-It Wralph" were a little misleading (a la "The Incredibles"). Though there are humorous scenes involving classic animated characters which self-proclaimed "gamers" will love, this movie isn't really a comedy and it's not really all about gaming - just like "Toy Story" wasn't entirely about board games and action figures. This is a family film about being yourself and becoming better - and taking that route ultimately results in a more endearing film than focusing totally on gaming, anyway. Also, the movie looks great from a visual standpoint, mixing eye-popping CGI with clever use of 8-bit animation traditionally used in older generations of electronics.
Whether it's the gentle nods to many of your favorite video games ("Pac-Man," "Asteroids," "BattleZone," "Centipede," "Frogger," "Street Fighter," "Super Mario," "Q-Bert," "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Tomb Raider," "Whack-a-Mole," "PONG," and the original Nintendo Entertainment System), the inclusion of many famous childhood candies (Oreos,Laffy Taffy, Nesquik, devil cakes, Dunkin' Donuts, Mentos, and even Subway for good measure), or the self-improvement storyline, "Wreck-It Ralph" truly has something for everyone. It's funny, it's clever, but it doesn't get derailed from the deeper storyline, making it the best and most relevant animated film since the "Toy Story" trilogy. A must buy for Disney/Pixar fans and everyone that's still young at heart. You may also be interested in: "Toy Story" (1995), "Shrek 2" (2004), "Monsters, Inc." (2001).
Blu-ray bonus features:
- Audio in English, English Descriptive Audio, French, Spanish
- Subtitles in English, French, Spanish
- Video Game Commercials: "Fix-It Felix, Jr.", "Sugar Rush Speedway," "Hero's Duty," "The 'Fix-It Felix' Hammer"
- Four alternate/deleted scenes: There's a reason they got deleted.
- "Paperman" theatrical short
- "Bit by Bit: Creating the Worlds of 'Wreck-It Ralph'" - A short documentary that takes a closer look at the animation of characters from the movie and each of the four video games featured in the film.
Directed by: Rich Moore
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Running time: 108 minutes
MPAA rating: PG for "some rude humor and mild action/violence," including bullying and name calling throughout.
Costars Alan Tudyk, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Rich Moore (voice talents)
Blu-ray release date: March 5, 2013
Looking to find "Wreck-It Ralph" on DVD or Blu-ray in the Salt Lake area? Check out these suggested links: