Wreck-It Ralph – 2012

Director Rich Moore
Starring (voices) John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Alan Tudyk, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Dennis Haysbert
Screenplay Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee

The genius of Wreck-It Ralph is not in the ground that it treads.  The multi-licensed cameos has been done before by Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the Toy Story films. Going over several video game platforms is nice, but it’s not something to write about.  The voice talent is bordering on great, but there is one major drawback (that some – like my kids – might see as a strength). The thing that places this animated feature as among the best of the year is something one almost never sees: a story line that has believable heroes for boys and for girls.  Actually two each.

By now, most have heard of the premise of Wreck-It Ralph, he is the bad guy of an older video game (modeled loosely after Rampage), who longs to improve his lot in life.  His journey brings us into a world until now only imagined.  In this world, all video game characters exist as separate entities that live outside of their games when the arcade closes, much like the toys when Andy is sleeping or away from the bedroom.

His journey takes him away from his game (Fix It Felix) while the arcade is open.  Due to some rules I will not bother to explain, the game malfunctions and is placed out of commission, to be repaired, if possible.  If it is not possible, it will be shut down.  We all know that isn’t good.

There are some nice turns in the plot that I will not ruin for you.  These work really well to keep one in suspense, even if they don’t always follow their own rules (like the reboot of a world with outside characters).  The pace is very crisp for a genre where lag time can ruin it for the theater. There was not one disruption in our theater, from kids, that is.  Some middle-aged woman kept talking to the screen, for some reason.

Perhaps she was as exhilarated by the story as the rest of us.  The entire premise is rife with opportunity and it is easy to imagine several decent sequels deriving from it.  The thrill of seeing certain games out of commission, but the characters lingering within the gaps is palpable for adults.  It certainly seemed a draw for my girls.

A video game round-up of nemeses referred to as Bad-Anon

For Reilly, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.  He has the face that many will recognize, but few will ever love, outside of Ricky Bobby’s wife.  His voice is like a comfortable old bath robe, well-worn and always comfortable.  The viewer falls very easily into sympathy for the big lug with a slight temper.

Vanellope, who is played by Sarah Silverman, is misunderstood in her own game, Sugar Rush.  Portrayed as though she were playing the animated version of herself, the only way Silverman could have been more like the real life is if she’d broken out in 4 letter words.  I was not as amused with her as her storyline allowed for.  While one cannot say it is entirely her fault, I have the feeling the director allowed for her to improvise just a bit too much.

This impression was not shared by my girls, however.  They were drawn in by Vanellope’s positive attitude and when all seemed lost, my oldest attempted to understand Ralph’s point of view.  Not many animated films bring out that kind of thinking process in a kid of 9 years old.

Lynch and McBrayer work seamlessly within the story.  There is a subtle irony in their pairing, but that is part of what makes it work.  None of this comes across as a mixed message to the “too young to watch Glee” set and both are very good voice actors.  What it is, though, is a clever storyline that adds a dimension to the film.  Thankfully, there is nothing on the agenda but a delightful and motivational tale.

My girls walked away from this film enthralled with the world they had just witnessed.  I was relieved that they had seen a film perfect for their age and good for mine too.

(****1/2 out of *****)

Em’s Review:

So how did you like the movie?  The characters were funny and they put it together well.

What did you think when Ralph broke the car up?  Sad.  It made sense because she could have been killed and never be able to come back.

What did you think when you found out the truth about King Candy?  I felt, “Wow, I’ve been tricked.”

What was the saddest part of the movie for you?  When I thought that Wreck-It Ralph was going to die in Soda Springs.

What was the best moment of the movie?  I have two.  The first one is this:

(Skip to about 1:55-2:00)

(Ellie liked it too)

When she was wearing the princess outfit and then Ralph asked if she was really a princess.  She rips the suit off and says, ‘No.  I am still the Vanellope you know!’

What would you rank this film out of 5? Can we do it 10?

Yeah I guess: Okay 10 out of 10.

Doesn’t that equal 5 out of 5?  10 is bigger.

El’s Review:

El, how did you like the movie: It was good action and I also liked Sugar Rush.

Who was your favorite character?:  Vanellope.

What did you like best about her?:  She had a lot of energy and she said to Ralph “Why are you so freakishly big?”

What is your favorite part of the film?:  The Race.  I like that Vanellope won so she would not become a glitch.

But she liked that she was a glitch?: She stayed alive, became a princess and she pretended that she was going to destroy everybody.  But she didn’t (laughs).  She became a president instead.

So how many stars do you give it…out of 5?  No, out of 10.  I give it a 9.

But that’s 4.5 out of 5?  Do you not know what 9 means?


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