“Wreck it Ralph” does for videogames what “Toy Story” did for toys. It poses the question, what do the characters do when you finish playing or switch the video game off?
As in the Pixar cartoon, this computer animated story assumes the characters have lives of their own, merely going to work each day to show up in time for you to play with them for a while.
Ralph (John C. Reilly voice) is the main character in the retro much loved arcade game “Fix-it Felix Jr”. Ralph is a huge brute that destroys the building whilst he nemesis, the squeaky clean “Fix it Felix” (McBrayer) cleans up the mess with his hammer, whilst being controlled by the human player of the computer game. Think “Donkey Kong” without the licensing issues.
Everyone is quite happy, they have their roles in life and can mix with other games via game central which strictly controls who goes where and with what accessories. Everyone that is, apart from Ralph who longs for a medal and feels ostracised by the other game inhabitants “Nicelanders” who move only in straight lines, as early games used to.
The reason for this exclusion from after work functions becomes obvious, Ralph wrecks everything, even when he is off the clock. He is much safer living on a pile of bricks, better for everyone but not a lot of laughs for Ralph.
Deciding to break out of his hum drum life, Ralph joins a FPS “Halo” like clone “Heroes Duty”. It’s tough in this game and life is cheap. Ralph and Felix eventually meet the dreamy and curvaceous but hard as nails Sergeant Calhou (Lynch), who is a pastiche of every war film you have ever seen. Battling against aliens they break the rules that keep games safe behind surge protectors and then all hell breaks loose in the “Sugar Rush” candy coated cart racing game, where they join forces with computer glitch racer “Vanellope von Schweetz” (Silverman).
The premise for the story is strong, initially the screenplay and visuals are original and present a unique viewpoint on the CGI cartoon genre. The support group “Bad Anon” for videogame baddies is a great touch. The animation is state of the art and the voices are good but on occasion Reilly does not make the most of the opportunities presented. The film also makes brief references to other retro games, Streetfighter, Pac Man which makes for some fun nostalgia moments for older viewers.
After we venture into Candy Cart racing land, the story skews younger and may lose those adults who were paying attention before. The film becomes formulaic losing momentum and interest as the story reaches climax, after climax with seemingly no end other than creating a 3D Disneyland ride.
Fun and original for the first reel before slipping into the more standard “be yourself and all you can be” cookie cutter style story, albeit with excellent colourful visuals that are sure to please the little one’s.
Lacking the depth and emotional heft of top notch Pixar efforts, this is still worth a watch and is sure to please the bean counters at Disney.