Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” is a fun, playful romp that lives up to its ambitious attempt to appease video game lovers of all ages. It does this by combining the aesthetics of a Pixar film, the same reverence for video games as “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” and zany characters reminiscent of ones from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
Videogame baddie Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), isn’t actually a bad person, he’s just tired of being misunderstood. After 30 years of work, he longs to be loved like his nemesis, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). Since people in his video game world only appreciate heroes, Ralph uses the arrival of a first-person shooter at his arcade as a chance to create a new image. He sneaks into the game to win a medal, although in the process, he accidentally frees a villain that threatens the entire arcade. To save the day, he’ll have to learn how to be a hero from Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a mischievous young character inside a racing game.
Similar to other computer animated films, this one absolutely benefits from a 3D presentation. The extra dimension breathes even more life into the characters and the environment. In ways that “Tron Legacy” should have done, “Wreck-It Ralph” transports you to an immersive computerized world where you legitimately feel like you’re inside a videogame. Slick visuals and high attention to detail are partly responsible for this sensation. The other key piece is the lighthearted electronic score composed by Henry Jackman, which bears the youthful exuberance of typical videogame tunes.
As Ralph, John C. Reilly is funny and lovable in his usual dopey, self-deprecating kind of way. His performance, like that of his co-stars Silverman, McBrayer, and Jane Lynch, may be predictable, yet it’s still satisfying. The most unexpected amusement comes from the story’s true villain King Candy, voiced by the immensely talented Alan Tudyk. He literally becomes so lost in the character that he’s unrecognizable until you see his name in the credits.
Ralph’s journey is a heartwarming one of self-discovery, where he learns who he really is and the value of friendship. Although it a sweet adventure with a moral in the Pixar vein, “Wreck-It Ralph” appeals to its target audiences through very different means. Adults schooled in classic video games will laugh out loud at the nods to Q*bert, Super Mario, Sonic, Street Fighter, and even newer games like Metal Gear Solid. Kids on the other hand will giggle, at the silly potty talk used by central characters Ralph and Vanellope.
At times “Wreck-It Ralph” can be overly cutesy and lean too heavily on sophomoric humor, though it is a visually striking, well-crafted flick that will please gamers of all ages.