Monday, November 5, 2012

A Kid’s Movie For Adults, Wreck-It Ralph Is A Lot Of Fun!

The Good: Decent plot, Interesting characters, Great animation, Snappy dialogue
The Bad: Somewhat predictable character arcs
The Basics: Wreck-It Ralph lives up to its hype as a funny, well-developed film based upon the idea of a working-class video game villain who wants something more from his life.

There are very few films these days that lure me in with the previews. Yet, with Wreck-It Ralph, I saw the previews and I was hooked! Wreck-It Ralph uses the vocal talents of some of the hottest actors and actresses today and a very cool premise. And, I am happy to say, the contents of the preview trailer are (blissfully) indicative of the concept and set-up of the film, without revealing much at all of the film’s actual execution.

Wreck-It Ralph also managed to do something that few films today manage to do for me; it surprised me. In fact, the surprise of the villain in Wreck-It Ralph is well-alluded to, but the movie worked hard enough going off in other directions to make the obvious seem surprising once again. In short, Wreck-It Ralph might be written like a formulaic, multi-layered project that (objectively) utilizes many of the “proper conventions” of the screenplay, but the snappy dialogue obscures that to make for a wonderfully executed film.

Wreck-It Ralph is the villain in the video game Fix-It Felix Jr. He, however, wants more out of his life; he wants to be a hero. After attending a meeting with the other video game villains, he enters the game Hero’s Duty to get a hero medal. Ratted out by Q-Bert from when he passed through the grand gaming station, Fix-It Felix begins to follow Wreck-It Ralph when the game – missing its villain – is in danger of being permanently unplugged. After escaping Hero’s Duty with the medal he wants, Wreck-It Ralph ends up in the video game Sugar Rush, with one of the villainous Cybugs from the first person shooter game.

In the candy-colored racing game, Wreck-It Ralph encounters the young, determined glitch Vanellope. Vanellope wants to race in the race that will determine the starting line-up for the next day. Beset upon by the villainous King Candy, Vanellope’s dream is put into jeopardy by the multiplication of the Cybugs within the racing game and the bullying racers. Wreck-It Ralph’s chance for real heroism comes when he discovers the glitch is the key to resetting the game and saving all the games in the arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is many things, but it is not actually a children’s movie. The film has moments when it wants to be for younger audiences, but having witnessed it in a crowd that was mostly children, my wife and I clearly enjoyed it more than the kids did. Most of the jokes went over the heads off the young people, like the threat actually represented by “pulling the plug.”

The film has its own vernacular – “going turbo” – and makes fun allusions to many video games classic, contemporary, real and created just for the film. The animation for the film is incredible and it has a great sense of movement. The reality of all the arcade characters meeting together in neutral places and in video games outside their own is exceptionally easy to buy into because each of the games have their own voices and dialect that makes each one distinctive.

More than trying to satirize video games, Wreck-It Ralph attempts to play in the universe of video games and flesh out the ideas of them while making a broader statement. Unlike something like Shark Tale (reviewed here!) that suggests one ought to stop striving to reach for anything better and stay in their place, Wreck-It Ralph explores the idea of gaining the esteem of others, while becoming comfortable with the strengths one possesses. The message works and the plot surprise makes up for the obvious character direction.

Wreck-It Ralph utilizes the talents of John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Lynch remarkably well. Sarah Silverman’s role as Vanellope is more the result of excellent casting than any form of successful acting on her part. Silverman plays enthusiastic and childlike just fine, though she does that in her stand-up and sketch comedy acts (satirically and with usually grossly inappropriate language for the age of her characters), so this is nothing new. On the flipside, Lynch does militant in a way that is different from her character of Sue Sylvester and John C. Reilly is deliberate and the slow-growing hero as the film’s title character. While virtually every one of the lines delivered by Jack McBrayer could be delivered by his character from 30 Rock, he makes Fix-It Felix Jr. actually seem viable and original.

Ultimately, Wreck-It Ralph does not feel like the typical Disney animated movie. Instead, despite moments when director Rich Moore uses the medium to deliver giant special effects-driven sequences – the race is reminiscent of the podrace from The Phantom Menace (reviewed here!) and the Cybug invasion could have been from The Matrix Revolutions (reviewed here!) – the film is enjoyable and feels fresh because it is rooted deeply in the character conflict.

For other Disney animated films, please visit my reviews of:
Toy Story 3
A Christmas Carol
The Princess And The Frog
The Incredibles
Lilo & Stitch
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Monsters, Inc.
The Lion King
Beauty And The Beast
The Little Mermaid
Lady And The Tramp
The Sword In The Stone
Sleeping Beauty


For other film reviews, be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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