Posted: November 2, 2012 at 1:57 a.m.
LITTLE ROCK Playing video games can be addictive fun; being a video game villain isn’t. This is especially true for Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), the anti-hero of the fictional ’80s arcade classic Fix-It Felix, Jr.
When he’s not trashing a high rise with his oversize biceps and fists, he’s falling to his doom, game after game, as the title character (Jack McBrayer) repairs all of Ralph’s damage with his magic hammer.
Now that the game is 30 years old, it’s understandable that Ralph would find his fate tiresome. Fortunately, the new Disney 3-D computer animated game about Ralph’s identity crisis isn’t. Wreck-It Ralph sometimes relies a little too closely on Uncle Walt’s source code. Once the plot kicks in, the tale becomes a bit predictable.
Nonetheless, there are enough Easter eggs and other bonus points to keep the film lively.
When the arcade closes at night, all of the game characters except for glitches can visit each other’s machines, so Ralph decides to break into the first-person shooter Hero Duty to get a medal just like the one Felix earns after every round.
In doing so, Ralph inadvertently causes more destruction than he usually does in his own console. Because he has left his own game, the console is going to be sent to the junkyard if it keeps malfunctioning, and with characters leaping from game to game, players will be abandoning other machines in droves.
Not quite realizing what he has done, Ralph wanders into Sugar Rush, with anime looking girls racing in a vivid candy land where the cops are doughnuts. Ralph winds up teaming with an impish lass named Vanellope (a typecast, but highly effective Sarah Silverman), who wants to race even though she’s ostracized for being a glitch.
Meanwhile, Felix and an unflappable warrior named Calhoun (Jane Lynch) try to stop the two before more games go off the grid.
Director Rich Moore (Futurama and The Critic) comes up with wonderfully imaginative worlds and rewards alert viewers. Screenwriters Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids) create dozens of funny cameos for classic video game characters to shine. Nostalgia buffs will learn what happened to Q*bert and his compatriots, and Ralph angrily discovers that Pac-Man gets invited to parties he doesn’t.
Many of the gamer references might go over the heads of youngsters, but the film is as sweet as the environment in Sugar Rush. It also teaches tots that medals and other honors are meaningless if they aren’t earned. A few grown-ups could stand to pick up that lesson.
Make sure not to be late for Wreck-It Ralph. There’s a delightful hybrid hand-drawn and CGI shot titled Paperman that comes on before it, and it’s an utter delight.
A young urban drone meets his female counterpart outside a commuter train and desperately tries to reconnect with her using paper airplanes. Needless to say, they don’t have a great on-time record. Paperman is completely wordless but filled with charm. As good as Wreck-It Ralph is, the feature has a tough time following in the flight path of this short.
Wreck-It Ralph 85
Animated, with voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg, Rachael Harris, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz
PG-13, for some rude humor and mild action/violence
MovieStyle, Pages 40 on 11/02/2012