Wreck-It Ralph (2012) / Animation-Comedy

MPAA rated: PG for some rude humor and mild violence
Running time: 101 min.

Cast (voices): John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Adam Carolla, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Joe Lo Truglio, Edie McClurg, Horation Sanz
Director: Rich Moore
Screenplay: Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee
Review published December 1, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph John C. ReillyWhen the kids leave the arcade, the game characters come to life (in their own cyberworld's, anyway -- akin to Toy Story). Wreck-It Ralph (Reilly, Walk Hard) is a 'bad-guy' video game character who is tired of always playing the fall guy and seeing his nemesis, the iconic Fix-It Felix Jr. (McBrayer, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), get all of the glory for thwarting him. He feels left out, which is only exacerbated when he isn't even invited to the game's 30th anniversary party. Just once, he'd like to be the guy that everyone looks up to.

The building inhabitants suggest to Ralph that if he were to win a medal for doing anything, they'd let him be their friend, so the big lug manages to become a hero by escaping into the realm of a neighboring game, a super-violent first-person shooter named "Hero's Duty", pitting humans against alien bugs, in order to garner that lofty award. Ralph gains his prize, then quickly loses it, and what's worse, he inadvertently has let loose a horde of bugs that are speedily multiplying and are on the verge of possibly taking over their beloved arcade game homes. Meanwhile, while stuck in the colorful racing game called Sugar Rush, Ralph befriends a spunky kart racer named Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman, School for Scoundrels), a glitch in the game that also threatens to unravel the balance of things should she fulfill her dreams by becoming a competitive race car driver.

As with many animated features today, there is a nostalgia factor for the adults that is still light and colorful enough for children to enjoy. Here, the homage is paid to the old arcades, as well as the arcade games of old, including characters from such games as Pac-Man, the Street Fighter series, Q-Bert, among many others. The graphics are excellent, ranging from simple 8-bit characterizations right up to the fully-rendered 3D visuals of today's best animated features. Pretty impressive debut for first-time animated feature director Rich Moore, who worked as director for popular animated TV hits like 'The Simpsons' and 'Futurama', working from a script from Cedar Rapids screenwriter, Phil Johnston, along with newbie Jennifer Lee.

I'm not one to usually get impressed by the voice casting of films, as they tend to stack the deck with celebrities for the sake of having them rather than what voices would work best. However, Wreck-It Ralph casts each role just right, with each actors' respective personality hitting just the right notes. Reilly is misunderstood but loveable, even in his rage. McBrayer is naive but is a very likeable dreamer. Jane Lynch plays her female soldier character, Sgt. Calhoun, as tough-as-nails but with a hint of needed vulnerability. And Sarah Silverman is hyper, comical, bratty, yet somehow endearing underneath it all. Plus, Alan Tudyk (Transformers 3) is nearly unrecognizable as King Candy, sounding like he is channeling old-time comedian Ed Wynn.

Ultimately, Wreck-it Ralph's themes run along the lines of not letting others pigeon-hole you in life, telling you it is impossible for you to be something they don't think you should be. It's fun, it's funny, and outside of a climax that runs a little too dark for some younger children, it's a delight that will assuredly spawn a sequel like any popular video game would.
Qwipster's rating:

©2012 Vince Leo