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Overall Rating

Awesome: 39.13%
Worth A Look47.83%
Average: 4.35%
Pretty Bad: 8.7%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Wreck-It Ralph
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by Jay Seaver

"A movie about video game characters that remembers it's about fun."
5 stars

"Wreck-It Ralph" might be said to be the next generation's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", and that can be taken as a compliment or a dig depending on who says that how: The cynical will claim that the video games it references are inherently inferior to the Disney and Warner cartoons previous generations grew up on, and that it lacks a certain satiric edge; those who like it will point out how well it integrates original characters into a world filled with old favorites and mixes and matches them in clever ways. I lean toward the latter, even if I could see where the former are coming from.

Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in "Fix-It Felix Jr.", a game that's been in the local arcade for thirty years now. And when the characters from various games hang out together after the kids go home, he admits that it bothers him that no-one appreciates what he does. But when he's not invited to the machine's thirtieth anniversary party, he flips his lid, and enters first-person shooter "Hero's Duty" to try and win a medal of his own, though he eventually winds up in karting game "Sugar Rush", where glitchy outcast Vanellope von Sweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) leads him on a merry chase. His absence from his own game leaves it declared out of order, though, and if he's not found by the next day, it will be unplugged, leaving the characters abandoned, so Felix (voice of Jack McBrayer) goes looking for him, teaming up with Sgt. Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) of "Duty", who fears a different kind of disaster.

At the very least, Wreck-It Ralph is going to be a fun movie to freeze-frame once it comes out on video, not just to see how many videogame in-jokes have been placed in the background but to see if an important clue to what kicks off the finale has been hiding in plain sight since early on. I sort of suspect it has, which means that the filmmakers' attention to detail isn't just about cramming all of their favorite game characters into the background. That is a lot of fun, though, especially since they dig into the 1980s games that might not have the highest profile (Q*Bert and Tapper, for instance) and have some fun with the more modern ones, too.

For the movie to work, though, the original creations have to shine, and that is thankfully the case. The writers make a good choice not to make either Ralph or Felix a villain if even they do find themselves at odds beyond the way their game is programmed. Reilly is just the right guy for Ralph's voice, making him morose but plenty capable of animation, just as the character's design, with its oversized arms and hands, is both slumped forward and powerful. McBrayer captures the right aura of naivete as Felix, making him likable but wont to take his privilege for granted. There's something similar but more aware to King Candy, ruler of the "Sugar Rush" game; aware of how good he has it but magnanimous... to a point (Alan Tudyk's broad, goofy, Ed Wynn-inspired voice acting is perfectly creepy-sweet). Vanellope can be right on the edge of irritating and charming; Silverman and the filmmakers do a really excellent job of letting the desperation in her boisterousness come out at points. Jane Lynch, meanwhile, plays Calhoun surprisingly straight, letting her character's gung-ho militarism work as contrast against characters from other types of games.

It's this contrast that creates much of the fun in Wreck-It Ralph; sticking the likes of Ralph in the middle of a modern first-person shooter is hilariously incongruous, although it's "Sugar Rush" that supplies the most laughs. Not only is it full of candy puns and names silly enough to come out of a Hunger Games sequel, but its sugary complexity threatens to overwhelm both Ralph & Felix and Calhoun from different directions. The action in there is a blast, too - it's big, busy, and fast-paced enough to thrill kids and make adults smile (it also looks like enough fun to play that I kind of wonder why this thing didn't actually exist before the movie). It's creative, fun, and gorgeously rendered - director Rich Moore and company take their mess of different styles and put them together in ways that make use of their differences and make them work together as a whole.

Which is, in a way, what the whole movie's about, and the way writers Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee (with Reilly and others also having input) go about it is quite impressive: As much as the movie is Ralph's story, it sneakily becomes an ensemble piece with all of the characters becoming someone various audience members can identify with in one way or another, with the plot becoming much bigger than Ralph but not coming out of left field.

The end is a little sappy, sure, but it's earned with cleverness and sincerity throughout. "Wreck-It Ralph" has moments where it seems like it embodies the more annoying excesses of Disney's reputation, but it pulls together so well and carries that success right through the end credits that it all works. (Plus, at least in the initial theatrical run, you get the attached short "Paperman", which is just beautiful on every level.)

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originally posted: 11/05/12 13:06:06
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User Comments

8/24/19 Suzanne The explosion of color and excellent voice casting make a fun movie. 4 stars
4/27/19 Dr. Lao Mediocre kiddie fare with pretensions of cleverness 3 stars
3/23/15 Jerry Spray A great film, up until venellope craps all over it with her annoying personality. 2 stars
6/18/13 Annie G Much much better than I expected! 4 stars
3/05/13 Son of Celluloid This is what a family movie should be, it works on a kid's and adult level. Loved it. 4 stars
2/11/13 Mami2jcn The voice talent was the best part. 4 stars
12/06/12 Emma McCauley LOVE THIS! 5 stars
11/18/12 Marty Nice voice casting, specially Silverman. great story/script. rly funny! some plot holes 4 stars
11/13/12 Flipsider Great premise, nearly ruined by certain annoying characters. 2 stars
11/09/12 Ronald Pottol Good for both kids and grown ups 5 stars
11/09/12 Abigail Grat film! 5 stars
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  02-Nov-2012 (PG)
  DVD: 05-Mar-2013


  DVD: 05-Mar-2013

Directed by
  Rich Moore

Written by
  Phil Johnston
  Jennifer Lee

  John C. Reilly
  Sarah Silverman
  Jack McBrayer
  Jane Lynch
  Alan Tudyk
  Mindy Kaling

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