Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph is not a Pixar film. Yet it is still a better film than the previous two films released under that Disney division. The idea alone, an arcade game Villain who leaves his game, traveling to other game cabinets in search of finding himself, hoping to become a hero, is ten times cooler than either idea for Cars 2 or Brave. Hell, even the opening animated short that proceeds Wreck-It Ralph was better than those two films. What Disney has achieved with this loving ode to video games, was create a new Toy Story for a new generation, that manages to reel in the original Toy Story generation by including countless references to video games of the 80s and 90s. It feels like it’s been years since I had this much fun at a Disney film.
In the fictional 80s Arcade hit, Fix-It Felix Jr., Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a big angry fellow who likes to wreck a tall apartment complex, smashing out windows and throwing bricks, in which THE Fix-It Felix Jr. (30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer) rushes around with his magical golden hammer fixing the building. In a quick time lapse montage at the start of the film, we witness the evolution of an Arcade starting 30 years ago, moving forward to present times as kids hop from cabinet to cabinet, eventually moving towards expansive first person shooters and DDR machines, leaving Fix-It Felix Jr off in the corner to collect dust.
Ralph who has just attended a villain support group (occupied with Bowser, Dr. Robotnik, and a Pac-Man ghost, just to name a few) in which he confesses that he just wants to be a good guy, returns to his game only to discover that Felix is having a massive 30th anniversary party inside the apartment complex with all it’s inhabitants, leaving him uninvited. Ralph decides to go “turbo”, by going into other games hoping to earn a medal in one of them, so that he can return to his own game and win the respect of the building’s inhabitants, hoping to be viewed as more than just a villain.
Wreck-It Ralph gets SO many ideas right. Such as the characters traveling through each cabinet’s respective power cord into a giant power strip known as Game Grand Central, which is loaded to the rafters with characters from nearly every single popular or cult video game ever made. So many that you almost wish a Blu-Ray release was already available so that you can slo-mo your way through Game Grand Central, spotting all the background characters, including Sonic The Hedgehog as the station’s pre-recorded safety video and Q*Bert as a homeless victim of unplugging.
The film’s screenplay, written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, is really the film’s only detractor at times. While the film most of the time holds up very well, as Ralph crosses into a game called Hero’s Duty (a mashup of Call Of Duty and Gears Of War) and another called Sugar Rush (Mario-Kart meets Candyland), the story becomes awfully conventional for a bit, throwing in a musical montage annoyingly soundtracked by Rihanna, as well as some other minor plot annoyances. But, even at it’s lowest, Wreck-It Ralph still manages to be one of, if not the best, animated film of the year.
If Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t completely win you over, the animated short that runs before the film, titled Paperman, surely will. In what looked like an amalgam of computer generated graphics and hand-drawn animation, this incredibly cute black and white short is practically screaming for the Best Animated Short Film win at next year’s Academy Awards. It’s a tale of an office worker who accidentally bumps into a lady on a train platform, only to later notice her in a window across the street from his high-rise office job. He tries unsuccessfully sending paper airplanes over one after another in order to get her attention, until fate takes hold. Adaaarable!
Wreck-It Ralph is full of heart and genuine love for the games of past and present, the same way that Toy Story was in 1996. With that trilogy being over with, I can’t think of a better film to take over the reigns for this next upcoming generation of kids. All of the performances were spot on, the jokes (mostly) executed with perfection, and so much fun to be had. It’s jarring, to say the least, that Disney Animation has put out a film worthy of the Pixar title, while Pixar is now pumping out mediocre titles worthy of the standard Disney Animation title. But hey, I’ll take it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find my Sega Genesis and make a quick run through the Chemical Plant Zone on Sonic The Hedgehog 2.
I give Wreck-It Ralph 4 copies of Toy Story on Sega Genesis out 5
By Richard Pepper