Starring the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch
Written by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnson
Directed by Rich Moore
Running time 108 min
MPAA Rating PG
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
In 1988, there was a movie called Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It was a blend of live action and animation that thrilled audiences of all ages. The film was set in the realm of animated cartoons and featured appearance by such cartoon stalwarts as Deputy Dog and Betty Boop. There was even a giant cameo between the two greatest animation characters of all time—Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. The blending of different studios into a single feature was just one of the many feats that made audiences praise the film.
Disney studios have resurrected the idea again, but this time in the world of computer games with one of the most charming films of the year, Wreck-it Ralph. The film takes place in the days of arcades. There is a video game called “Wreck it Ralph” where a giant wrecks a building and Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer) has to re-build the place. It is best to think of the game as something along the lines of Donkey Kong.
When the day is done and the arcade is empty, the characters of the games can relax. That is where we find that the behind the scenes world of video games is much different than the computer generated images. The characters that live in the apartment building of Wreck it Ralph love Fix-it Felix and generally do not like the hulking behemoth that is Ralph. It has been 30 years since the games inception and Ralph has discovered that he just wants to be love and accepted.
Ralph attends a support group of bad guy characters were we see first-person fighters, zombies and the Pac-man ghosts. One day, at an anniversary party for the game, the people of the building basically let Ralph know how they feel. Ralph wants to a hero and it becomes obvious that he need a medal in order to become a good guy. We also find that characters can journey from game to game.
Ralph travels to another video world, a first-person shooter, in order to secure a medal. During a skirmish, our would-be hero comes across Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) a commander who takes no gruff from anyone. She is shocked by a different character being in her game world. All Calhoun wants to do is kill some ‘Cy-bugs’.
Ralph takes off and ends up in Sugar Rush, a Candy-land style racing game and meets a glitch racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). All this little pixie wants to do is race the other game characters. Ralph befriends the little one, helping the tyke build a race car. The king of the game world, King Candy (Alan Tudyk) warns Ralph that a glitch cannot win because of the programming and letting her compete could cause the entire game to malfunction. If she races, the world will die.
On the other side of the plot, Fix-it Felix has to go and find his co-worker Ralph. He meets and befriends Calhoun to get Ralph back into his game. She also has to hunt down a ‘cy-bug’ that escapes their game world. All of these different plot threads come to a head as the cy-bugs attack the video game world outside their game parameter.
Simply put, Wreck-it Ralph is a brilliant film. Disney has made a film that is hip yet classic in both feel and substance. It captures the essence of character in the milieu of a different medium while staying true to the idioms of Disney style. It would make Walt proud to see how his newest generation of animation artists keep the ideas he set in his pictures.
The animators of this film have gone well above the call of duty in making Wreck-it Ralph. The colors just jump off the screen and the animations are true to both the video game feel and modern computer generated images. It is a perfect melding of forms that tells a compelling story.
One of the fun little parts of the movie is looking for all the classic video game characters shown in the film. There are images from such different games as Joust, Frogger, Paperboy, Q-bert and Super Mario Brothers. It reminds one of how much fun the classic arcade video were.
The program for the film opens with a short work called Paperman. It is done in a hand-drawn style and in glorious black and white. It is a brilliant little work of second chances on love that it as funny as it is romantic. This little pre-feature is almost worth the price of admission.
Wreck-it Ralph is a film not to be missed and on the fast track for an Oscar nomination in Best Animated Feature. When the Academy first introduced the category, I felt that it was going to be a thin field. Now it looks as though this could be one of the most contested fights of the year.