BY KATHY ESTEVES
We’ve all been there. Unappreciated and overlooked. Working a tedious customer service job, robotically saying “Have a nice day!” over and over again.
Meet Ralph. He’s one of us. He’s tired of doing the same ol’ thing day after day, and sleeping on a pile of bricks (okay, maybe that’s just him). He’s also generally treated like a leper because he’s the “bad guy” in his community also known as the arcade game, Fix-It Felix Jr. Alternatively, do-gooder Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) heroically saves tenants from Ralph’s (John C. Reilly) constant wreck-a-thon on their building (Donkey Kong reference!). He ultimately leaves his own game to enter others in hope to win a gold medal of his own and gain some acceptance.
Ralph navigates through awesome-looking first-person shooter gameplay when he steps into Hero’s Duty (Starship Troopers meets Halo). There we meet Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) who delivers some memorable hard-assed lines. Then from that game to Sugar Rush (Candyland meets Mario Kart). If we looked into the brain of a girlie girl, that’s what her world would like. Super-kawaii all the time.
Some golden scenes such as Wreck-It Ralph attending a Bad-Anon meeting with some other famous baddies like Bowser, Zangief, Clyde from Pac-Man, and Dr. Robotnik. Other familiar characters appear throughout the film too: Q*Bert, Sonic, Paperboy, Frogger to name a few.
Sarah Silverman easily pulls off spunky (7-12 year old?) Vanellope von Schweetz, race car driver wannabe and all-around brat. Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope’s relationship as two misfits becoming friends is pretty engaging.
King Candy was wonderfully voiced by an unrecognizable Alan Tudyk whom was channelling the Mad Hatter in voice and eccentric antics. The king had some funny lines, but his little green ball assistant, Sour Bill, was hilarious with his gloomy attitude.
The nods to the classic video games were welcome. And you could feel John Lasseter’s (Disney Pixar genius behind Toy Story) influence in this film. I just felt they could have pushed it a little further with the old-school nostalgia. In Wreck-It Ralph, the classic characters fade into the background after the first act and we settle into Sugar Land for the rest of the film. A little too much time spent there. It would have been cool to see Wreck-It Ralph hilariously navigate his way through a bunch of classic games or “new worlds” as was hinted in the trailer. Can you imagine Wreck-It Ralph in Zelda? Or in Castlevania?
But all in all it was a tightly-edited story, and it has a nice self-empowering, kid-friendly message at the end. So it is definitely worth a watch. And I’m sure it’s going to be pimped out for merchandise like crazy. I’m looking forward to buying a Sour Bill t-shirt.
Bonus: The featured short, Paperman, was pretty great. A beautiful black and white film showcasing a love-at-first-sight relationship. Don’t miss it!