Wreck-It Ralph (PG)
Directed by: Rich Moore
Written by: Rich Moore & Phil Johnston
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch
Running Time: 108 min
What happens when the bad guy is sick of being the bad guy? What if he is just like everybody else who just wants to be liked? Wreck It Ralph is a video game bad guy who is tired of being the bad guy. He lives in a dump and leads a pretty lonely existence. He decides to strike out on his own to win a medal and hopefully the affections of the non-player characters in his game. Along the way he meets a little girl who is a glitch, living as an outcast in a racing game called Sugar Rush (think Mario Kart meets Candy Land). As he helps her to become a racer Ralph discovers he’s not such a bad guy after all.
At it’s heart Wreck it Ralph is a great story about being the person you want to be, not the person you are told to be. Too often in life we try to be the person we are expected to be, whether it’s who are parents want us to be, who our friends want us to be or what society thinks we should be. We work to the bone to be the good employees, parents, friends or family member that society dictates we should be, but in doing so we miss the fact that if we just be the person we want to then all the rest would fall into place. It’s a great lesson for kids to take away from this movie. I for one catch some ridicule for being a man in his 30’s reading a comic book or carrying an Empire Strikes Back lunchbox, but I’m being the person I want to be, and in the end that’s what makes me happy. Sure I could buy the bland lunch sack like my peers and read whatever Oprah says is fit my literary consumption, but that wouldn’t make me happy and in turn I could possibly make those around me unhappy, like my family. Wreck It Ralph delivers this type of message through the characters actions, not in any overt speeches or anything. I think this is the mark of really good writing, when your message can be delivered through the characters actions and not just through the motivational speech that usually comes at the end of movies like this.
The characters in Ralph are wonderful. I’m sure most of you will be looking out for the characters you may recognize from your childhood (I know I was), but the truth is there aren’t as many cameos as I was expecting. I was a little disappointed to find that about 80% of them were given away in the various trailers, but most of the characters that do appear are well rounded out and quite entertaining. The characters I really loved were Jane Lynch’s Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun, a no nonsense squad leader from the Halo parody Hero’s Duty, and Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope von Schweetz, a glitch from the racing game Sugar Rush. Lynch’s performance was really fantastic. In her introduction she’s shown guiding the first person player through the apocalyptic hell of her game and it was really spot on. Though I’ve never played Halo, I’ve always hated Xbox (personal opinion), if you’ve ever played any first person shooter her performance will feel familiar and may even bring back some great memories. Ah, how I miss blasting away with my Call Of Duty clan online. Calhoun also gets some great back-story here, which really helped to flesh out her character. Silverman also did a fantastic job as Vanellope, delivering a real sense of adorability mixed with a dose of obnoxiousness. I really don’t care much for Sarah Silverman since poop jokes don’t really do it for me, but I loved her in this role. I wanted to be friends with Vanellope by the time the movie was halfway through. One scene that stuck out to me was when Ralph sees how Vanellope is living. Being an outcast from her fellow Sugar Rush characters she lives all alone in an environment similar to Ralph’s, which is the true moment of connection Ralph has with her. Hats off to Silverman and Lynch.
Wreck It Ralph also delivers a really great story that has everything you could ask for; we get lots of laughs, some action and even a bit of conspiracy thrown in as well. I do wish the conspiratorial aspect of the story had been introduced earlier though so that it would resonate more and give us something to keep us more hooked to the story. Though I do love the story, about halfway through you may still be trying to guess where the plot is going as the major conflict of the movie isn’t really introduced until the last act. This movie also did some really clever things such as the characters using there video game cabinets as homes while traveling from cabinet to cabinet through the power plugs via the surge protector they are all plugged into. The surge protector acts as a train station of sorts connecting all the different games, an idea I thought was really clever. If I had to have one gripe it would have to be with some of the cameos. Though they were fun for the most part, some were totally under utilized and only seemed to be there just to be there.
Overall Wreck It Ralph is a super fun movie that you will enjoy just as much as your kids, assuming you have kids and/or you decide to take them. You’ll be in for a treat that delivers a genuine story, some really good laughs and a pull or two at the old heartstrings. Let’s face it, no one crafts them like Disney, and Wreck It Ralph is no exception. Whether you’re looking for something to do with the kids or wanting to go to the movies but not wanting to see Alex Cross (Tyler Perry as an action star? Come on Hollywood, how did that even get green lit?), Wreck It Ralph is sure to please just about any crowd.
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Thanks to Moviehouse Cinema, Yorkgate, Belfast for the press show: www.facebook.com/moviehousecinemas | @moviehouseni