As Shrek did with nursery rhymes and Who framed Roger Rabbit did with iconic cartoons, Wreck it Ralph creates a fantasy world meta movie out of arcade video games. The film takes the now familiar idea that once the humans aren’t looking, the imaginary characters of this fantasy world come to life and interact with each other.
Here the title character (voiced by John C Reilly) is an enormous, misunderstood lug whose role in a game called Fix it Fred is to destroy a building with his giant meaty fists. Repairing Ralph’s destructive rampages is nerdy handyman Fred (voiced by Jack McBrayer who plays Kenneth the page on 30 Rock). As the video game bad guy, Ralph is an outcast who envies the nerdy hero Fred. To cope, Ralph attends a bad guys anonymous therapy group with all the other video game villains. When he finds himself flung into another video game called Sugar Rush where a little girl character Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) is about to be eliminated he has the opportunity to redeem himself.
This is, for the most part, a clever and inventive parody of classic video game characters and their world. The early scenes are particularly good as we’re immersed in a universe in which Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac man ghosts and Starship Troopers style marines all hang out together. Once Ralph lands in the acid trip candy land of the game Sugar Rush, though, the film tends to sag and just isn’t as funny as it should have been.
The animation is vivid and fluid and the action scenes dynamic but like all animated films these days it often becomes gratingly loud and manic.
John C. Reilly gives the destructive outcast Ralph an endearing Shrek-like quality although I doubt he’ll become as loved an animated film character as the Scottish ogre. Jane lynch, as the hard-nosed marine leader of an intergalactic war game, is probably the film’s most memorable voice artist. Alan Tudyk is also amusing as the chief villain, the corrupt monarch of the Sugar Rush world, King Candy.
Being a Disney film it of course has lessons about friendship and acceptance but these clichéd themes are actually delivered in quite a touching way.
Wreck it Ralph is a mostly fun and inventive adventure but it lacks the wit and emotional depth of recent animated masterpieces like Wall E and Toy Story.
Nick’s rating: Three stars.
Director(s): Rich Moore
Release date: 26th Dec 2012
Running time: 101 mins.
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