Ryan O’Bryan’s Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review
According to the unwritten rules of adulthood, as a 35-year-old man, I shouldn't have been as excited to see an animated film as I was about seeing Wreck-It Ralph. But, did I over-hype the film in my mind to the point where it would never live up to the fantasy expectations I set for it?
To give you an idea of how bad I wanted to see this movie, I took my two kids and one of their cousins — by myself while my wife attended the wedding of someone I didn't know.
To be clear, I'm not looking for some kind of pat on the back, a cookie, or a medal. So please keep your "Oh look, a man spends two to three hours with his kids by himself and he wants to scream it from the mountain tops to make sure everyone knows it," comments to yourself. For what it's worth, I did ask my wife if she wanted me to wait until some other time when she good go, and she made the very valid point that we will probably own it on Blu-Ray at some point in time, and was not-surprisingly OK with waiting until then.
Let's get to the actual movie. As someone who grew up playing video games pretty much my entire life, the concept is unique and is what drew me into the film from the moment I saw the trailer a few months ago. Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in a 30-year-old video game called "Fit-It Felix Jr." His job is to destroy an apartment building as quickly as possible before Felix (voiced by Jack McBrayer) comes in to save the day and repair the damage. The problem is that Ralph has started to grow tired of the characters living in the apartments being mad at him for doing his job, and longs for the day where he can be the good guy for once. A symbolic reference for anyone who feels under-appreciated in their job, perhaps?
His effort to prove to everyone that he's more than just the bad guy takes Ralph on a wild adventure only the minds at Disney Animation Studios could dream up. Along the way are countless video game references including characters from classic games to the way characters from the older games move around. An example of the latter being the residents of the apartment building Ralph looks to destroy every time a kid puts a quarter in the machine. Before HD graphics and controllers that provide fluid, almost human-like movement in all directions, joysticks on old arcade games and even older home game consoles went in four directions, up, down, left, and right. Movement in any of those directions caused your character to stop on a dime and make either a 90 or 180-degree turn on the spot. The animators pay homage to those golden days of games by having the apartment-dwellers of "Fix-It Felix Jr." move around in that same fashion even when the game is off for the night.
The cast for Ralph couldn't be better. John C. Reilly's (Talladega Nights) natural speaking voice is the perfect fit for the down-on-his-luck Ralph, while Felix is essentially the animated version of Kenneth, Jack McBrayer's perky and naive character from NBC's 30 Rock. Sarah Silverman, the hilarious comedienne with the child-like voice nails it as social outcast, Vanellope von Schweetz from a candy-themed racing game called Sugar Rush, and Jane Lynch essentially plays an animated Sue Sylvester in Sergeant Calhoun, the rough, tough, kill-or-be-killed leader of the fictitious first-person shooter Heroes Duty.
All in all, Wreck-It Ralph is a great movie for the entire family. As usual, the animation and attention to detail is unreal and the script contains enough references and jokes that adults can appreciate without going over the kids heads.
Something else worth noting, as the movie went on, I found myself really engaged in the story. Even though it is essentially a cartoon, I became emotionally involved, I felt something. That's what good story telling does. It sucks you in, you want to know how it ends, it makes you feel something whether it's joy, anger, sadness, or whatever. Beneath the clever script and phenomenal animation, Wreck-It Ralph tells a good story, which is why I highly recommend giving it a view.
I give it four out of four quarters (because it's based on an arcade game, you see).