Do you really know what happens when the lights turn off and the video game arcades close? Disney’s newest animated adventure, Wreck-It Ralph, answers that question and more. While the movie’s plot falls short of recent Disney animated masterpieces, references to theWizard of Oz, Kill Bill and lots of old-fashioned video games keep the film fresh and surprising, and the exploration of the world of arcade games is certainly an experience worth watching.
The movie tells the story of an arcade-game villain namedWreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) who’s tired of always being the bad guy. Ralph works hard at his job, wrecking buildings so the star of the game, Fix-It Felix, can fix them up. Ralph’s fellow characters ostracize him simply because he works as the bad guy. He even attends a bad-guy version of AA where their mantra is “Just because I’m a bad guy doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy.” Wanting to just for once feel what it’s like to be the hero, Ralph decides to go escape from his game and explore other gaming worlds. In the first game Ralph visits, “Hero’s Duty,” he battles alien cyber bugs and succeeds in winning his first medal. Ralph, ecstatic with his own success, accidentally releases a cyber bug into another game. These bugs, which have an intense multiplication capacity, can only be controlled within “Hero’s Duty” and are able to eat away at other games’ code, destroying them forever. Ralph, with the help of the characters he meets on his adventure, must find a way to save the gaming world.
Throughout his journey, Ralph predictably learns what it means to truly be a hero, and it’s a fun ride to watch him learn. The patchy plot and overabundance of puns are sometimes difficult to stomach, but the film’s animation is visually entertaining, and its dialogue is often very funny.
The film’s most redeeming quality is its charming cast of characters, which helps to make up for the otherwise weak plot. My personal favorite is Ralph’s newfound best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) — an adorably sarcastic character from a Mario Kart-style racing game set in Candy Land. Though Vanellope has never driven before, she feels racing is what she was born to do, and she wants to race more than anything else. However, she is banned from racing and ostracized by the other game characters because she is a glitch, disappearing off screen at random moments and making the game appear to be malfunctioning. In characteristic Disney style, Ralph helps her embrace what makes her different and use it to her advantage.
The other standout is the hardened military commander Sergeant Calhoun from “Hero’s Duty,” voiced by the instantly recognizable Jane Lynch. Lynch brings to Calhoun the same no-nonsense attitude viewers have loved to hate on “Glee” and seems right at home in the “Halo”-inspired world of the game. Even more entertaining to watch are the romantic advances made by Fix-It Felix (voiced by Jack McBrayer of “30 Rock”) towards Calhoun.
Wreck-It Ralph is far from an instant Disney classic, but the endearing cast of video-game characters and its pleasant sense of humor make the movie an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.