“Wreck-it Ralph” smashed into theaters today. The latest offering from Walt Disney Animation Studios, rated PG by the MPAA, is a sure-fire hit for most age groups. And the good news is, you don’t even have to be a gamer to appreciate the comedy, action and message of “Wreck-it Ralph”.
Disney is back on top of their game with the uplifting and comedic tale of Ralph, a video game “bad guy” who decides, after 30 years, he’s ready to be a better guy. But how? He tries attending a Bad-Anon meeting, think AA only for video game villains, but to no avail.
On the eve of his video game’s (Fix-it Felix, Jr.) 30th anniversary, the town of Niceland throws his video game’s hero, Fix-it Felix, Jr (voiced by Jack McBrayer), a massive party, complete with fireworks and a cake. Ralph, who lives in the town’s garbage heap, comprises of the rubble he has created over the last three decades, decides to try and join in. His arrival at the party is met with horror, and despite his desperation to be accepted as more than just a bad guy, Ralph destroys the cake swearing to return with a hero’s medal so the town will finally appreciate him.
“Wreck-it Ralph” feels like a behind-the-scenes look into what happens when the lights go off and the doors are locked at your local arcade. The characters from all of the different games move through the power cables to Game Central Station (a surge protector on the floor) where villains and good guys co-exist and mingle. You’ll see some of your favorite video game characters here from Pac-Man to Q*bert. It’s here where Ralph bumps into a hero from a neighboring game called “Hero’s Duty” and he hatches a plan to infiltrate it.
It’s been 30 years, and Ralph feels it when he steps inside “Hero’s Duty” and is faced by the Cy-bugs (they’re like a virus, they’re so deadly – they become what they eat and breed incessantly). He is completely out of his element and it’s immediately apparent. To all of us. This isn’t your (or your parent’s) video game. This is high-def and if you die in a game that isn’t yours, you don’t regenerate and you don’t respawn. It’s lights-out.
Inside “Hero’s Duty” he meets Sergeant Calhoun, voiced by the fabulous Jane Lynch, a no-nonsense, tough as nails heroine whose mission is to get the first person shooter to the top of a beacon where they will be awarded the medal Ralph so desires.
After a botched attempt to get the first person shooter to the top of the tower, instead of returning to his predefined start position with the rest of the squad, Ralph sneaks up the tower and steals the “HERO” medal. This unleashes total and utter havoc as hundreds of Cy-bug eggs begin to hatch around him and he is chased out of “Hero’s Duty” and into “Sugar Rush”. It’s here the movie really begins to take shape as Ralph meets the adorable Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman, whose voice, so often the butt-end of a joke, is utterly, undeniably perfect here). Vanellope, like Ralph, lives in “Sugar Rush” as an exile. Unwanted and feared, she is a glitch, whose actions are unpredictable.
Together, Ralph and Vanellope embark on a journey of truly Disney-sized proportions to restore her video game to its full working order.
“Wreck-it Ralph” is full of feel-good messages like turning your faults into your strengths, striving to be a better person despite the life you’re given and learning to love yourself. Basically, everything you hope for and expect from Disney.
The (only) issue I take with “Wreck-it Ralph” is the premise that the whole thing takes place in an arcade – do kids even know what arcades are anymore? Is this an idea that’s like 10 years too late? It doesn’t really matter, either way because it doesn’t hinder the film at all, especially if you consider the gleeful responses of the children in the audience at the screening I attended.
As a note, while the film does have some violence, there is also a scene where Ralph makes a decision to do something big, something heroic and all of the children in the audience reacted to it – in a major way. Some went so far as to throw themselves on the ground.
Explore more –
Online: Wreck it Ralph Official site