“Wreck-It Ralph” is a pop-culture coated smorgasbord of amiable entertainment.
Review by David Feltman
“You aren’t going ‘Turbo’ are you?”
With the exception of maybe Studio Ghibli, Pixar’s CG films have effectively replaced the Disney hand-drawn animation of yore. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the downward spiral of the last few “Disney” movies against the steady high-quality output by Pixar. Inside of a year, audiences have been treated to the smart and witty feminism of “Brave” and now the gamer enamored “Wreck-It Ralph.”
The titular “Ralph” (voiced by John C. Reilly) gets sick of being marginalized in his bad guy role and so leaves his video game in search of acceptance and fulfillment by playing hero in another game. Overall, it’s a fairly formulaic “hero’s journey” story arc. There’s nothing particularly innovative or interesting plot-wise aside from the setting. Once Ralph teams up with the secret “glitch” avatar Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), the dynamic of the film feels like Pixar repurposed and reskinned “Monsters Inc.”
It’s a fascinating feat that the filmmakers were able to wangle so many diverse intellectual properties into a single film. From Nintendo’s Bowser, to Sega’s Sonic, to a whole cadre of Capcom characters, even the illustrious Konami code makes an appearance. But despite what the promotional materials might lead you to believe, these various characters are quick cameos in a story that focuses its energy on two or three fictional arcade games.
“Wreck-It Ralph” may lack the ingenuity of “Brave,” but the filmmakers are well versed in telling this story. The characters are lovable, the jokes are coarse and funny and the story plucks the heartstrings at all of the right moments. It’s an enjoyable film, especially for kids. Fair warning to the prudish parents out there, there are some moments that might take you off-guard, like Kano from “Mortal Kombat” ripping out a zombie’s heart and Vanellope introducing the portmanteau “vurp” (vomit + burp) to your children’s lexicon. “Wreck-It Ralph” may be light on substance, but it is a pop-culture coated smorgasbord of amiable entertainment.