From the trailers, “Wreck-It Ralph” looked to be fun, unique, bright, and special. Unfortunately, while it is colorful, this Disney animated comedy is underwhelming.
Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the villain in a 30-year-old arcade game called “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” Ralph is tired of being the bad guy and desperately wants a hero medal, so he decides to leave his own game (which you’re not supposed to do) and jump into another – called “Hero’s Duty”, a combat knock-off of “Call of Duty”. There he meets Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), and after stealing a medal from that game, Ralph escapes and heads to another game – “Sugar Rush” – a Mario Kart/Candy Land combo.
There he hooks-up with Vanellope (comedian Sarah Silverman), who’s always wanted to race, but can’t because she has a glitch. Both she and Ralph feel unwanted, so they become friends and he decides to help her enter which, if she wins, will get her back to normal. At the same time there’s a virus on the loose inside the game and both the “Sugar Rush” and “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” games could be shut down forever.
“Wreck-It Ralph” had the potential to be quite good and a strong contender for the best animated film of the year. The concept is clever and the look is fantastic. But there are just too many major problems, starting with the fact that Ralph simply isn’t funny or very likeable. In fact, most of the time he’s downright depressing, even in the upbeat parts of the film. He’s Disney’s version of Shrek. Although, unlike ogres, Ralph doesn’t have any layers: he’s a sad, one-dimensional character (even in 3D).
As expected there are also A LOT of video game references in “Wreck-It Ralph”, with dozens of character cameos, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Bowser, Q-Bert and Pac-Man. Classic gamers will have a field day with this film. You can tell the writers put a lot of hard work into researching the look and including all the references. Too bad they didn’t spend more time on the script, which is basic and bland. The “outcast” storyline involving Ralph and Vanellope is not fresh. The movie spends way too much time inside the “Sugar Rush” game. I was hoping for Ralph to explore some of the other games, maybe more of a backstory of the Litwak arcade, but all we get is a straight-forward, uninspired effort. There is one minor twist, but it comes too late.
“Wreck-It Ralph” is rated PG for some rude humor and animated action/violence. It’s appropriate for kids 8-9 and up. Younger kids may like the colorful adventures and gamers will have fun seeing some of their old friends. But everyone else will be looking to pull the plug about half way in.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Wreck-It Ralph” gets a C. Unfortunately, this is an example of what separates many of the Disney and Pixar films. It’s got a million dollar look – but the script isn’t worth the 50-cents it would cost to play the game.
I was shcoked by all the great review “Wreck-It Ralph” received and the fact that it was the favorite to win the Oscar (though it did not win).