Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Directed by: Rich Moore
Starring: John C.Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
A coin drops into an arcade machine. John C. Reilly’s indistinguishable voice booms through the speakers, calling himself Ralph, as an animated computer game character with gigantic hands strolls across the computerised game land. He describes himself as nine-feet tall with a raging temper. Through the arcade game we see that Ralph lives in a stump, which was bulldozed onto a rubbish heap so that a new apartment block could be built in its place. This makes Ralph mad and once the block of apartments has been erected he begins smashing them down, hence his name Wreck It Ralph. He then talks of his opponent Fix-It Felix Jr, the character game players will be participating as. Whilst Ralph destroys the building Felix has to rapidly fix it and save all the residents. Once his mission is complete, the residents gather on the roof, a captured Ralph in tow, and throw their villain into a puddle of mud. When the arcade closes the characters gather voices of their own and the residents cheer and reward Felix for his days work with pie and cake but the bad guy, Ralph, trudges back to his rubbish tip where he must spend the night, alone. As Ralph covers himself with bricks to keep warm he watches the attention Felix receives from inside the warm building and tells himself he doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore.
In Ralph’s world this game would not happen without him, and Felix would not seem such a great guy if Ralph wasn’t around to tear the place up. In their world this is just their job but the residents still look at him as if he’s a terrible person. These characters are very much like those from Toy Story. When their day is up they come to life and their world is very much like ours but in computerised form. You’re instantly able to sympathise with Ralph and, whilst we know he’s just a character, the voice work by Reilly makes you believe that this character is actually real.
Ralph wants a different life and strikes a deal with the other residents that will ensure his acceptance into their community if he wins a hero’s medal. Whilst devising a plan of action, Ralph comes across a soldier from the game Hero’s Duty and takes the man’s armour after he passes out through fear of a bug. Ralph ventures with the other soldiers into a game where he hopes to win a medal – the game however is a first person shoot-em up lead by Sergeant Calhoun, a character programmed with the saddest back-story ever. Ralph finds himself in the midst of an all out shoot-fest, against bug like machines that guard a medal in the tall tower in the centre of the game. After aggravating the other soldiers, and the player of the game, Ralph runs off to the tower, breaks in and steaks a medal claiming he’s won it, however he accidentally wakes up a sleeping bug and ejects himself from the Hero’s Duty game and ends up in the opposite game Sugar Rush, a child friendly racing game involving cake-like cars. Ralph loses him medal and goes in search of it but, more importantly, he’s brought a bug this game, which could cause Sugar Rush to become infected. With Ralph missing from his original game, the residents fear they’ll be unplugged, so Felix joins forces with Calhoun and they enter Sugar Rush in search of Ralph and the bug.
This is a typical Disney movie. It’s generic and follows a very steady acceptable formula where all key story beats are hit at a certain point, and the protagonist’s character arc is predictable from the offset. It really doesn’t matter though because with Disney films it always works. It definitely takes elements from the likes of Toy Story (the idea that voice-less everyday items come to life at night), Monsters Inc (a character becomes infatuated with a person not for their world), and Alice In Wonderland (a character enters a strange world, learns to adapt and meets a Mad Hatter like character), but Wreck-It Ralph manages to take these elements and present them to us in a very different way, a way that makes us care and believe in the character. You instantly root for Ralph and as he ventures on his journey you want him to become a hero.
The film is full of satirical in-jokes. You would think that these jokes would be mostly aimed at references to other computer games but you’d be wrong. Yes there are many computer game references, from Sonic to Street Fighter, but most of the references are aimed at sweets and chocolate. In the land of Sugar Rush everything is a sweet snack and the characters come across Nesquick sand and Mentos Mountain amongst others. As well as these in-jokes the creators have done a marvellous job at creating this world. Everything within it relates to a typical everyday occurrence, like the transport between the games, random inspections at station terminals and homeless characters because their games were unplugged. It’s such an inventive idea that it feels different to other similar animation films.
The voices really add to the world. Each one fits with their corresponding character. John C. Reilly IS Ralph and I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing the part. Jack McBrayer, of 30 Rock fame, has the perfect voice for a wimpy hero who gains all the plaudits. Jane Lynch commands authority as the Sergeant Calhoun, and Sarah Silverman provides a voice that will eat right through you, much like the character of Venelope. The characters resembled their actors, meaning the voices were simply perfect for each role.
There was an overload of potty humour, which at times seemed thrown in and forced. The terrible song choice of Rhianna’s Shut Up and Drive over the top of Venelope finally mastering the driving technique was awful. Talk about ‘on the nose’ music that actually took me out of the film for the few minutes it was blasted over the top. It just goes to show how a bad musical choice can really alter a scene. This is where the film is really dragged down.
Wreck-It Ralph is a very good addition to the Disney franchise. It’s not as good as some of the classics but it can still be seen as competing with some of the strong additions from Pixar and DreamWorks. I wanted to be entertained, I was. I wanted a good story with a likeable lead character and they delivered 100%. By the sounds of it a sequel could be on the way and I for one will be queuing up to see it.