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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

WRECK-IT RALPH (2012)

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Alan Tudyk, Dennis Haysbert

Written By: Phil Johnson, Jennifer Lee, John C. Reilly (addt'l material) Directed By: Rich Moore

The Short Version

An imaginative, fun look at life from the perspective of a video game character.

Your kids will have lots of fun, but not as much fun as you own inner kid.

Fun animation + good story + great vocal talent = win!

Dude! Q*BERT!

What are you waiting for? Go see Wreck-It Ralph already! GO!


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

BETTER CHEDDARS.

Snack away, everyone!  Om nom nom nom!


Pairs Well With...

PBR.

“They call it ‘retro.’  I think it means ‘old but cool.’”

(What?  Yes, I actually like PBR.  I’m drinking one now, in fact.  And I’m a geek, not a hipster, thanks.)

“Have some candy!”


Thirty years ago, Disney asked what it was like to live inside the world of a corporate computer system.  They came up with Tron, and it turned out to be a classic.

Now, the folks at Disney have taken a look at what it’s like to live inside the box games of a video arcade.  They’ve come up with Wreck-It Ralph, and I strongly suspect that this one’s going to have some staying power, too.

Out story centers, naturally enough, on Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly), who is the bad guy in the venerable old box arcade game “Fix-It Felix, Jr.”  His job is to wreck an apartment building in Niceland, while Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer) tries to repair the damage and ultimately thwart Ralph.  If the player is any good, of course, Felix eventually wins, after which he gets a medal, and then he and his neighbors throw Ralph over the side of the building.  So it has gone for thirty years.

But Ralph is tired of being shunned and rejected just because he’s been cast as the bad guy.  He wants to do things like get invited to parties, have friends, and eat cake.  The way he sees it, the only way that this will ever happen is if he manages to get a medal, and the only way he’s ever going to do that is to sneak over to another game, win it as the hero, and return to his own box in triumph.  And so that’s exactly what he sets out to do, by way of a brand new sci-fi shooter called “Hero’s Duty.”

Unfortunately for everyone, things don’t go exactly as he planned, and the resulting mess could end up spelling disaster for not just Ralph and his own game, but indeed for every game in the arcade.  Unless, of course, Ralph can find a way to save the day while still embracing his role as a bad guy…

I’m going to spoil something here, folks.  Yes, the character of Wreck-It Ralph does indeed live up to his name by wrecking a lot of things, but his movie is not one of them.  Wreck-It Ralph is outstanding.  Indeed, I can honestly say that I had more fun watching Wreck-It Ralph than I did watching any other big screen feature thus far in 2012.  Bear in mind that this is coming from a guy who does not normally go for “family friendly” fare in a year that has seen both The Avengers and The Expendables 2.

Yes, my friends: it’s that good.

Wreck-It Ralph certainly lives up to the label of being “family friendly” – there’s absolutely nothing about this movie that should give parents pause; well, at least not parents who’d read anything on this site – and kids are sure to enjoy it, but the biggest winners in the audience are the “inner kids” living within the adults present.  I don’t care if you’re 6, 16, or 60: if you’ve ever popped a quarter into a box arcade game, blown dust out of a cartridge, or gotten sore thumbs from a console pad, Wreck-It Ralph is a treasure trove of delights.

What awaits the little ones is your standard charming story about the guy who gets rejected by everyone, does something rash, and then, with the help of a gaggle of quirky pals he picks up along the way, not only becomes a hero to all, but also learns to like himself.  The silly sight gags are funny, and the humor that’s aimed below the height line works well.  Yay, kids!  Feel good fun adventure for the win!

What awaits the adults in the crowd is an awesomely fun-filled trip down memory lane wrapped around a kid-friendly story that manages to avoid tripping any gag reflexes or yawn triggers, with plenty of jokes that fire above the height line that weren’t meant for the little ones but that you’ll have no trouble laughing at.  There’s group therapy for video game bad guys… hosted by Clyde, the orange ghost from “Pac-Man,” in the little room in the middle of the Pac-Man maze!  The most talkative member of the therapy group?  Zangief, the Russian wrestler from “Street Fighter II;” and M. Bison is part of the group, too!  Arcade game denizens drink at the bar from “Tapper,” an 80s classic, and savvy viewers will note that one of the patrons is one of my old favorites growing up: Pepper Pete from “Burgertime!”  And let’s not forget a PSA from Sonic the Hedgehog, and a down-on his luck Q*Bert – Q*Bert! – reduced to panhandling in the train terminal.  I can already imagine that come blu ray time, there are going to be a lot of people pausing crowd scenes to try to pick out all of the cameos of characters from classic games hanging around this movie, especially in ‘Game Central Station.’  (Along with a lot of kids saying “Daddy, why do you keep stopping the movie?”)

But it’s not just the (very sensible) inclusion of classic characters into the world of Wreck-It Ralph – who is himself very obviously based on Donkey Kong, both in terms of the game from which he hails and his own physical build – that makes it fun for the adults.  It’s not even the inclusion of other great geek references, like the Konami code or the “Diet Coke and Mentos” trick (which I bet is going to see a major resurgence in popularity after this), or little things like naming the donut guys “Dunkin” and “Wynnchel.”  Rather, it’s the way in which the writers and other contributors to the story put it all together in a fashion that reaches out to and warms the happy heart of one’s inner child without insulting the outer adult or asking him or her to please not make use of any brain cells for the duration.  It’s fuzzy without being sappy.  It’s fun without being stupid.  It tells a cute story in a smart way that’s consistent not only with itself, but with the rules of the game worlds that it inhabits.  (Believe me; a savvy audience would know if someone ignored those.)  It puts a first person shooter badass (well voiced by Jane Lynch) into a world best described as “Strawberry Shortcake meets Mario Kart,” and has everything about it make sense.

The fact that the visuals live up to the story counts for a lot, as well.  Wreck-It Ralph has to cover several different visual styles, from old school 8-bit graphic to soft kids’ game cutesiness to the sharper edges of a first person shooter, and it handles them all very well, especially when an inhabitant of one world is sent into another (though 8-bit characters do not remain 8-bit when not being viewed through a box console window).  The characters, the scenery, and the “gameplay action” are all wonderfully rendered, and a delight to watch.  (Especially in glorious “2D,” which is the sort of environment we all play our computer games in to begin with.)

As for disappointing elements… no; sorry, folks.  Not a one.  In fact, come blu ray time, I think this may become only the second Disney animated flick I actually go out and buy.  (The first was Fantasia, in case you’re wondering.)  I have to say it: I really, really love this flick.

Bottom line, Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t just strive to be a good “family” movie: it strives to be a good movie, period, and it succeeds brilliantly.  Fun and exciting for kids, and fun and awesome for adults, Wreck-It Ralph stands as one of the must-see moves of 2012, soon to be one of the must-own movies of 2013.

Doom Cheez Cinema is now Cinema on the Rocks. Thank you for your support!

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, November, 2012


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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