Wreck-It Ralph is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 52nd feature-length animated film. The studio has a legacy animation greatness with films such as Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. I can happily say, that Ralph has earned its place on the Walt Disney animation leader board. It is one of the best Disney films made in years.
Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of an old-school arcade bad guy Ralph, who decides that after 30 years of wrecking and smashing buildings, he doesn’t want to be a bad guy anymore. Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the antagonist of Fix-It Felix, Jr., a fictional 1980s arcade game at Litwak’s Arcade that has remained semi-popular over the years despite newer, bigger and better games taking over the arcade’s real estate.
To prove to denizens of Fix-It Felix, Jr that he’s a good guy, Ralph goes on a quest to obtain a shiny medal—the badge of all heroes and good guys. Ralph then stumbles into a Halo-esque first person shooter called Hero’s Duty and “earns” his long-awaited medal, but with it accidentally unleashes a deadly threat into the girly Japanese go-kart game Sugar Rush. Stranded in Sugar Rush, Ralph meets a Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), an annoying glitch who becomes a thorn in Ralph’s side. It’s up to Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) to find Ralph and bring him back to his game before it’s too late, while Ralph and Vanellope have their own issues to deal with.
Director Rich Moore did a great job pandering to gamers. If you’ve ever spent time in an arcade, in front of an Nintendo, or played any other gaming device for hours on end, you’ll love this movie. You’ll wish you had a pause button so you could scan through the bustling Game Central Station, hoping to catch a glimpse of your favorite childhood video game character. Because Ralph is filled with so many nostalgic moments, adults will find the movie just as enjoyable as the kids.
The story jumps from one game world to another, which could have been disorienting if done incorrectly; however, great care was taken to assure that the worlds were both visually jarring yet cohesive. Fix-It Felix, Jr. has a limited color palette and is filled with 8-bit features (even the characters move robotically). Contrast that to the high-definition CGI world of Hero’s Duty or the bright, colorful world of Sugar Rush. It’s almost as if you’re watching three different movies. But it just works. I can’t really think of a movie that has attempted this multi-style before, but I loved it.
Wreck-It Ralph isn’t just one of the best animated films of the year, it’s one of the best comedies of the year. Come ready to laugh and to laugh frequently. The humor varies (much like the visuals throughout) ranging from clever gamer jokes to potty humor (mostly delivered by Vanellope). I would have preferred for Disney to take the high ground and avoid the bathroom humor, but alas, the kids in the audience (and many adults) went wild over them. 1 point: Disney; 0 points: me.
Having already seen the movie in its very crude form at the test screening a few month ago, I didn’t think I could like the movie more than I already did. But seeing the complete, polished version was incredible. I was smiling and laughing throughout the entire film (not to mention salivating every time the scrumptious world of Sugar Rush came on the screen).
Wreck-It Ralph is a landmark achievement for Walt Disney Animation Studios. It’s success (both critically and commercially) proves to me that Walt Disney animation is back. Thank goodness! The studio went through a rough patch in 2000s, but seeing Disney succeed in bringing such a fresh and original story to life is satisfying (and CGI nonetheless). I can now anxiously anticipate what gems the studio will bring to theatres in the upcoming years.
Wreck-It Ralph is hands down one of the best animated films of the year. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll leave in a much better mood than when you arrived. Whether you’re a gamer, kid, parent, single, animation lover or not, this movie has something for everybody. Bravo, Disney!