Title: Wreck-It Ralph
Directed By: Rich Moore
Voice Cast: John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Skylar Astin, Rachael Harris, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz
Watch out, parents. After catching “Wreck-It Ralph” you might have some kids hoping to grow up and work in the game industry, and I mean inside the game industry.
Ralph (John C. Reilly) may be the title character of the old school arcade game Wreck-It Ralph, but he’s certainly not the star. Ralph does his duty and wrecks the apartment building so Felix (Jack McBrayer) can swoop in, fix it and get his medal, but it doesn’t end at game over. Even during the arcade’s off hours, the apartment dwellers still treat Ralph like a big, bad villain and Ralph just can’t take it anymore. He ditches his tree stump and heads to Game Central Station in search of a game in which he finally can win his medal.
Sounds a little simplistic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s part of the beauty of “Wreck-It Ralph;” it truly is a movie for the whole family. The visuals are vibrant, the characters are charming, the jokes are silly and Ralph’s goal is as clear as can be, but the film still has a great deal of depth including game-related homages, identity crises, high stakes and more.
Most have enjoyed an arcade game at one point or another, but essentially, director Rich Moore and writers Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston are building an original world from scratch. We’ve got some familiar faces like Q*bert and Pac-Man’s Clyde, but Lee and Johnston also build a number of brand new games with fresh faces. Rather than run the risk of having the narrative spin out of control, the duo artfully meld familiar game scenarios with entirely original elements. We’ve seen games like Wreck-It Ralph before – Donkey Kong being the closest match – making the world feel familiar, but then the arcade lights go out and we see this wildly creative depiction of what the characters do when they’re not working and it’s downright enchanting.
Wreck-It Ralph, Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush are all oozing with a remarkable amount of detail and delightful nuances, but it’s the rules of the arcade world as a whole that are particularly fascinating. Characters don’t merely hop from one game to another. They take a train and that train goes through a tunnel. But we don’t just see Ralph and co. riding the trains. We get a taste of how it works from the real world, too, Moore showing a spark traveling through power cables. No, it’s never broken down to science, realism and mechanics, but the film offers just enough to make you believe through a healthy balance of exposition and magic.
But, of course, part of the reason that pairing works at all is because of Ralph. Ralph has you on board within mere moments of the start of the film. You probably can’t relate to a guy sick of being seen as a videogame villain, but the situation is laid out so clearly and Ralph is so well developed so early on that you’re rooting for him before his journey even begins.
At first Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope comes across just as Ralph sees her, as an annoying obnoxious brat, but as we come to learn the details of what Vanellope is fighting for, you’re inclined to push the incessant whining aside and actually care for her. While it may be a bit much at times, it’s tough to imagine anyone other than Silverman voicing this character. McBrayer makes for pitch perfect voice casting as Felix. He’s almost naïvely positive yet is a believable hero making him an excellent juxtaposition to Jane Lynch’s rough and tough Calhoun. Calhoun is a no-nonsense modern first-person shooter game hero so watching her work alongside a retro Felix is quite fun.
And that’s really the case with all of “Wreck-It Ralph.” Simply put, it’s a ton of fun. But for those of you who are looking for something more than a surface value entertaining animated movie, look no further because “Wreck-It Ralph” is just that, too! When you break it down, this is a pretty complicated movie. It delves into the back end of videogames, fairly thorough survival rules and a comprehensive environment, but the filmmakers do such a stellar job of condensing and conveying information, it lets you appreciate the adventure whether you’re eager to suspend belief or prefer to keep a keen eye on the details.
Voice Acting: B+