Hand over your cash, fix your eyes straight ahead, and prepare yourself for the next level in family entertainment.
Like two kids on BMX’s riding towards each other down an unmaintained forest track, Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph provides an exciting collision between old and new, as director Rich Moore (”Family Guy”, ”The Simpsons”) rubs together the best bits of the retro gaming world with the snazzier, more contemporary kid-friendly offerings of the Mouse and beyond.
Moore’s feature debut combines the cleverness and cuteness of ”Toy Story” with the visual excitement of today’s most high-tech arcade offerings, complete with the same frayed but eternally fun plot device – the ‘jumping into different shows – or, as is the case here, games – that had the packed out crowd’s watching Freddy’s Dead in 1991 both hollering in laughter and yelling ‘What the heck!?’ towards the screen in synchronized chorus.
Ralph (voiced by John C.Reilly) is the villain of a video-game known as Fix-it Felix Jr. Tired of being thrown off a building by resident good-guy Felix (the unmistakable vocal stylings of Jack McBrayer) and his pint-sized tossing team, the gruff giant decides to pack-up and leave. While the co-stars of his game fret over his whereabouts, and consequently, worrying their game may be put out-of-business if he doesn’t return, Ralph escapes into some other games, where he plans to steal a medal and come back to his own offering a hero.
After invading a tense, shooter game featuring marines holding off aliens, Ralph finds his way into a sweet, female-targeted racing game where he develops an unlikely friendship with malfunctioning character, young race enthusiast Vanellope (Sarah Silverman).
Ralph ultimately goes out of his way to see his new friend is appreciated more, while Vanellope teaches Ralph a thing or two about himself. While Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, and the action-men of the Street-Fighter game look on.
Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee have penned a funny, smart and very, very sweet flick full of the kind of larger-than-life, memorable characters Disney insist on having in the market place.
As important as visuals and a fun libretto is, a good Disney/Pixar film is only as good as it’s voice cast though and thankfully, this one comes equipped with excellent players one and two. John C.Reilly, heavily involved in the production from concept to bow, is the perfect match for the hulkish, loudmouth good-bad guy, while Sarah Silverman is – as offensive as it may sound – an imaginative and brilliant choice for the role of the flawed youngster. The duo, complete with their atypical brand of humour and larger-than-life personas still intact (though obviously restrained for the family audience), not only have great chemistry, they provide as many laughs as the script does – sometimes simply by just.. speaking.
The casting director has also earned his or her Christmas bonus in hiring perfect matches for the supports – Glee’s Jane Lynch as the gusty Ripley-esque alien-busting heroine, 30 Rock’s resident dork Jack McBrayer as the simple savoir Fix-it Felix, the criminally underrated Alan Tudyk (Death at a Funeral, Serenity) as the madcap madman King Candy, determined to keep young Vanellope from succeeding on her mission to participate in her own game, and TV comic Mindy Kaling as Taffyta Muttonfudge, one of the snotty racers that comes up against our heroine.
Disney have been trying to get a film set within the world of video games up for a couple of decades now, but it’s a good thing Wreck-it Ralph didn’t happen any earlier; the retro appeal of the game characters adds appetizing wistfulness and an extra fun element to proceedings, the effects and animation could never have looked so dandy back in the Reagan-era (“Dot & The Kangaroo”, anyone?), and the storyline’s bring-it home message, that of accepting and loving who you are and what you do, is needed much more now, with the pressure to be someone or something else at an all-time high, than it ever was.
Jot ”Wreck-it Ralph” down on your must-see list of movies.
Blu-ray details and extras : The Blu-ray looks and sounds superb and is equipped with quite a few fun extras, including deleted scenes and other bits and bobs.