Wreck-It Ralph is videogame nostalgia blended with candy obsession. With it’s bright colors and the occasional annoying pop-song, it’s a sugar rush to the senses and kids will dig it. Adults may overdose.
The movie begins with the Wreck-It Ralph game being played and the 8-bit rendering is down to the last detail, everything you could expect from an early eighties arcade game. Then the arcade reaches its closing time and all the characters come to life as we the audience, are transported inside their world where everything is three-dimensional but some of the jerky animation is still preserved.
As a kid, I found the videogames I played to be kind of magical and inspiring but the concept of them coming to life or having an internal real world never occurred to me while toys coming to life did, like in Toy Story. When I saw cartoons as living beings working the movie business in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, that seemed kind of natural too. However, I think the concept of video game characters coming to life in the arcade after closing time isn't a fantasy I can relate to. Whatever, I’ll go with it.
The characters socialize by traveling through the arcade’s circuitry but when they venture outside their game they run the risk of dying without an extra life to help them. They also have the top priority of fulfilling their roles to keep the game working correctly during operating hours. Getting unplugged by the arcade owner is the worst fate. Cute. That’s what this movie is. Just imagine Shrek meets Tron and you’ve got it. That’s not the best news for animation enthusiasts. It depends on what you value in movies like this. Personally I’m annoyed by animated movies that try to thrive solely on their cuteness. I love Ratatouille and I hate Madagascar. Wreck-It Ralph is somewhere in the middle.
Like Donkey Kong, Ralph is the bad-guy of his thirty-year-old videogame and is having a midlife crisis (I wonder how bad videogame characters get when they turn forty). He chooses to jump into other videogames to see if he can find his place as a good guy instead. Ralph is perfectly voiced by John C. Reilly. Along the way he ends up in a candy-themed race-car game ruled over by King Candy voiced by Alan Tudyk channeling Ed Wynn’s Mad Hatter. There he meets a reject named Vanellope, voiced with gleeful obnoxiousness by Sarah Silverman, who wants to race but can’t because her character has a programing glitch. Ralph befriends her and learns the value of being a real good-guy while he helps someone no one else wants to.
It's a generally fun movie but it was all I expected it to be and nothing more.