11/2 – Wreck-It Ralph Review: A Heartfelt Film For the Whole Family

“It’s hard to love your job, when no one else seems to like you for doing it”.

That is the major theme of Wreck-It Ralph (directed by Rich Moore), where Ralph (voiced more than capably by Actor John C. Reilly) toils for 30 years as the villain of Fix-It-Felix Jr.

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But the shame of being the bad guy doesn’t end when the game does. Ralph slogs his way to his home at the garbage dump each night, while the townspeople inside the Fix-it Felix Jr. game heap accoloades on Felix (Jack McBrayer) for saving them from Ralph’s wrath.

Ralph even tries to come to terms with his lot in life during a 12-step program with villains from other games.  He's told "just because you're a bad guy, doesn't mean you're a bad guy". Indeed, in the "real world" of Disney villains, Ralph would never be found among the likes of Hades and Cruella De Vil.

Everything comes to a head one night when Felix throws a big party celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Fix-It Felix Jr. game. Understandably frustrated at not being included in the merriment, Ralph heads over anyway and ends up unintentionally ruining the party. However, he finds out that winning a medal might be just the way to win over everyone's hearts.

Ralph does the unthinkable – he leaves the Fix-It Felix Jr. game – while on his quest to find a medal. His first stop is a game called Hero's Duty (the "Duty" becoming part of a running gag later in the movie). Hero's Duty is a Halo-style game presided over by Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), who has little patience for this bumbling soldier. Unfortunately, it turns out that finding a medal and keeping a medal are not the same thing. Ralph brings his prize – and a dreaded Cy-Bug from Hero's Duty – into the game Sugar Rush.

 

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Sugar Rush is where the heart of the movie takes place, a land of candy that couldn't be more far removed from Hero's Duty. Ralph meets a young girl – or a young "glitch" – named Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman). Vanellope is also an outcast in her own game, but we don't really find out why until much later. Vanellope is a racer by nature, but she isn't allowed by King Candy (Alan Tudyk, channeling Ed Wynn) to be part of the game due to her glitch. Ralph and Vanellope don't exactly become fast friends – she can be a bit of a nuisance – but eventually they team up to get Vanellope into the race of her life.

Wreck-It Ralph is a tremendously relatable story. I know how it is to work hard in a job that can be thankless at times, while others receive recognition. I think that most everyone can relate to that, and it's nice to see the real good guy win. Wreck-It Ralph is a movies for families to enjoy together – from children to teens to adults, there is something here for everyone. And if you aren't a video game nut, that is okay. My biggest gaming days were back in the early to mid 80's, when Space Invaders and Pac-Man were hot off the shelf. Wreck-It Ralph hearkens back to some of the older games to bring this new story to life.

Along the way, there are a lot of great video game cameos including Pac-Man and Q*bert.

The animation in Wreck-It Ralph is stunning, and I love that Grand Central Station is represented in "Game Central Station".  There are only a couple of quibbles I really had with the film. First, at times it seemed to plod along a little more than I'd like – but I'm not really a gamer, so that could be why. Second, I'd have preferred a kid in the role of Vanellope. Not that Sarah Silverman doesn't do a great job with it, but I think a young teen would have nailed it even better.

Make sure to arrive early enough to see the animated short, Paperman. It's creative, lovely, funny and romantic. I don't have enough adjectives to describe the short,  you must see it for yourself!

My grade for Wreck-It Ralph:  B+.

Wreck-It Ralph has running time of 1 hour, 33 minutes and is rated PG. 

Check out our interview with Wreck-It Ralph star Stefanie Scott here!