Wreck-It Ralph – A good movie about bad guys

Wreck-It Ralph is a movie about video games. Based on that statement, you might be averse to it on sheer principle. Before you re-pocket those ten bucks you would’ve spent on the ticket, though, here’s why you should go see it.

The movie sets a new standard for video game movies. Others have tried and failed because they attempt to adapt a beloved existing game to a Hollywood script (The Super Mario Brothers Movie, Max Payne, Hitman, Resident Evil). Of its many strengths, one is crucial: its main character is a new Disney original. Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain of a fictional arcade game (“Fix-It Felix, Jr.”; Jack McBrayer plays the titular character) and wants to be the good guy for a change, going to great lengths to gain the recognition he deserves.

The story itself could be adapted to just about any concept—like with most Disney movies, it has an underlying moral of “you being you” and self-consistency and all that. Not to say that the movie is predictable or boring—it has its share of twists and interesting characters—but it ultimately falls into the tried-and-true Disney formula. In fact, maybe for that very reason, it has more than enough entertainment value for just about all ages.

The secret component is that there’s nothing to ruin—Pixar created them, so they can only build on Ralph and his pals. If the movie starred Mario (or, for that matter, any other existing game character), it probably would’ve bombed. However, unlike the way you know Mario, who’s been around for almost 30 years, you have no preconceived notions of Ralph outside of the movie. Wreck-It Ralph is a clean slate upon which Disney/Pixar are able to tell what’s sure to become another classic Disney tale.

It must be said that being a gamer is a huge bonus when watching the film. References to classic video games are made throughout the film (most heavily in the first 20 minutes or so), including Mario, Street Fighter, Q-Bert, Metal Gear Solid, and Pac-Man. Catching a reference or spotting a character results in the ultimate geek-out (I was left squirming in my seat on more than one occasion).

As per Pixar norm, the animation and detail are simply glorious. As Ralph jumps from game-to-game, the style of each game world is visually distinct. Hero’s Duty, another original, is set in a generically war-torn alien world. Sugar Rush, in which most of the plot unfolds, is rife with color befitting its candy-world theme. The voices of John C. Reilly (Step Brothers), Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Show), Jane Lynch (Glee), and Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) are unexpectedly good fits for their characters and each gives commendable performances throughout.

Go see Wreck-It Ralph. Your inner geek will thank you—and if you don’t have an inner geek, your inner Disney lover will (because everybody has one of those).

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