2012, PG, Directed by Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Ralph is bad. Ralph – with his over-sized block hands - is programmed to wreck things in the arcade game he has long been a part of. When the arcade lights go down at the end of a tiresome day, Ralph is ostracised in favour of the game’s hero Fix-It Felix, Jr., left out of the parties held at his penthouse and the cakes baked by his fellow characters. This day-to-day occurance is what brings Ralph to Bad Anon, a support group for video game villains. ‘I will never be good...and that’s not bad,’ villains ranging from Mario baddie Bowser to a House of the Dead zombie are told. Not content with this rationale, Ralph (voiced by ultimate supporting actor John C. Reilly) decides to take matters into his own large hands and does the unthinkable: skips games (via Game Central Station, of course!) in hope of winning his very own gold medal.
The latest Disney outing may not reach the heights of Pixar movie magic, however Rich Moore's animation does have a hint of the untouchable Toy Story; once the gamers have departed the Arcade for the day, we are drawn into the game, unveiling a whole world beyond the screens. Moore immerses us into the virtual world seamlessly, delivering the film in the guise of an actual video game. With the world comes the rules (namely the one Ralph breaks - stick to your game,) the video game character interaction (two fighters from Street Fighter calling it a day and heading for a beer is priceless,) and the fears (Toy Story's characters feared the shelf...these characters fear the 'Out of Order' sign.) It is a broadly well-realised concept that really succeeds. Add to the mixer the nostalgic element at play, and Wreck-It Ralph becomes equally as watchable for adults as it is for kids.
As Ralph bumbles his way into a first-person shooting game (in a standout scene, we see how the characters incorporate the paying gamers into their world,) right through to landing in Sugar Rush, a sickly-sweet racing game populated by saccharine little children and fulsomely sprightly adults, a smile will be firmly fixed on your face. It is in this game where he meets 9-year-old Vanellope Von Schweetz, a candy-pun-spewing handful who forges a friendship with our titular hero. Voiced by comedienne Sarah Silverman, the character may irritate a touch to begin, but it is doubtful her existence as a 'glitch' (for the techno-phobes: a system fault) won't tug at the heartstrings by the end; left out by her fellow characters, just like Ralph, there is more than a hint of Monsters Inc.'s Sulley and Boo here. Not a twosome as near as memorable, however Ralph and Vanellope are endearing enough to make you root for 'the Wreck-It guy' to aid the 'glitch' in realising her dreams of participating in a cup race...a true underdog story.
Wreck-It Ralph may not reach the heights of Pixar's best, but don't be fooled - this is still a cut above the rest, and superior to Disney's recent offerings Filled with references galore, laugh-out-loud quips and top-notch characterisation (including a homeless Q*bert,) this - as well as the charming pre-feature short Paperman - is an unadulterated joy to be shared with all.
This game is not over.