Wreck-It Ralph (PG)

Animation 108 November 2, 2012
By Nick Schager
It's hard out there for a video game villain—always being attacked, never given the benefit of the doubt, and forever pigeonholed. Such is the fate of Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), the bad guy in an old-school arcade game. With gigantic hands, a round face, and overalls strapped over one shoulder, Ralph resembles a human Donkey Kong, and after 30 years of his smash-and-growl routine, he has grown tired of his station in life. At a therapy session for like-minded scoundrels including Super Mario Bros.' Bowser and Street Fighter's Zangief and M. Bison, Ralph wonders aloud why he can’t ever be the hero. A Pac-Man ghost responds, "We can’t change who we are." With bouncy CG that's given greater depth by 3-D, director Rich Moore's film blends the secret-lives-of-toys reality of Toy Story with the self-actualization vibe of Bolt, with the former proving far more electric than the latter. There’s an invigorating energy to the first 20 minutes, with Reilly's ho-hum-glum narration hilariously establishing Ralph's discontent, and Ralph’s travels through the game world marked by one winning cameo after another, including 2-D icons Pac-Man (detested by Ralph) and Q*Bert (now homeless). Thus, it's disappointing to find Wreck-It Ralph squandering the opportunities it sets up, retreating into static be-yourself territory when Ralph gets stranded in a cart-racing game with a smart-talking teen (Sarah Silverman) to save. Wreck-It Ralph's themes don't develop by branching out in wild, unpredictable ways; instead, they become narrower and more monotonous, perhaps replicating the fundamental nature of '80s-era games, which were predicted on basic, repetitive action.
Rich Moore John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Adam Carolla, Jamie Elman, Rachael Harris, Dennis Haysbert, Mindy Kaling, Edie McClurg Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, Rich Moore Clark Spencer Walt Disney Pictures

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