Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

****

Reviewed by: Neil Mitchell

Disney's 52nd animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph, is an absolute riot from first frame to last. Smart, funny, expertly rendered and operating on multiple levels, it's no surprise that the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Academy Award for Best Animated Feature nominations were secured. With Moore, whose credits include directing episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama, at the helm and having a hand in the screenplay, it's perhaps no wonder that Wreck-It Ralph is brimming with gags – both visual and aural - and zeitgeist-channeling pop culture references as well as beating with a heart as big as its titular character's apartment block demolishing hands.

Wreck-It Ralph, voiced by John C Reilly, is the villain of old school video game Fix It Felix Jr, the lumbering, unloved opposite of Felix Jr (Jack McBrayer), the game's titular golden boy. Whereas the inhabitants of the apartment block Wreck-It Ralph constantly tries to destroy socialise together at the end of the working day, the game's villain retires alone to the dump every night. Sick of being an outcast and labelled a bad guy, Wreck-It Ralph decides he needs to prove he's a hero by winning a medal, much to the scoffing dismissal of his colleagues.


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This basic premise throws both Wreck-It Ralph and the viewer into various different gaming environments inside the arcade that houses them all. Chief among these worlds within worlds is the frankly terrifying, Starship Troopers-like hyper-violence of Hero's Duty and the day-glo, Mario Kart stylings of Sugar Rush. A similarly unloved character in the kart racing game - annoyingly precocious and malfunctioning 'glitch' Venelope (Sarah Silverman) - first hinders and then aids Wreck-It Ralph in his search for recognition and emotional satiation.

With a dangerous bug-virus escaping from the world of Hero's Duty and a sneaky villain with nefarious plans of their own, Wreck-It Ralph's personal quest becomes an arcade wide battle for the very survival of the games themselves. Felix Jr and Hero's Duty's Sgt Calhoun (voiced in wonderfully deadpan, militaristic fashion by Glee's Jane Lynch) are dragged into the increasingly perilous situation and form an amusing odd-couple partnership that complements the one formed by Wreck-It Ralph and Venelope, itself reminiscent of the bond between the elderly Carl and Russell the Wilderness Explorer in Disney/Pixar's Up.

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This frantically paced tale of friendship, understanding, acceptance and fulfillment whizzes by in a blur of gaming and movie references, in jokes and satirical sideswipes. Mean Girls, Pac-Man, Alien, Donkey Kong, Q-Bert, The Wizard Of Oz and The Matrix among many others are either directly or subtly evoked. The beauty of Wreck-It Ralph is that it makes no difference if you spot any of the references or love videogames, such is the vibrancy of the animation and the humour of the screenplay.

The 3D adds a real sense of depth to the various gaming worlds the action plays out in, for once fully justifying the decision to use the ever contentious technology. Whether Wreck-It Ralph will go on to become as cherished by the paying public and critics alike as the aforementioned Up or Toy Story series remains to be seen, but for me, it deserves to be spoken about in the same breath.

Reviewed on: 08 Feb 2013
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Tired of being a video game bad guy, Ralph sets off through all the games in the arcade where he lives, hoping to make a name for himself.
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Director: Rich Moore

Writer: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jim Reardon, Jennifer Lee, John C. Reilly, Sam J. Levine, Jared Stern

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg, Raymond S. Persi, Jess Harnell, Rachael Harris, Skylar Astin, Adam Carolla

Year: 2012

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

Festivals:

Glasgow 2013

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