Wreck-It Ralph Review: No One Knows What it's Like to be the Bad Man
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Wreck-It Ralph Review: No One Knows What It's Like to be the Bad Man

By Agent Bedhead | Film Reviews | November 3, 2012 | Comments ()


Some villains are just 8-bit programmed that way, you know? Such is the case with the titular character of Wreck-It Ralph, a video-game baddie who is forced to hulk-smash during his professional life; yet when the lights go out, he yearns to be a hero. Disney did good here. They licensed some of the most important arcade-era characters, including Pac Man's ghosts, Q*Bert, and Sonic the Hedgehog, and parents will love this throwback to their youths. This movie isn't just a trip into nostalgia land for retro-video gamers. There's an actual story and some real feeling embedded within, and overall, the movie is a riveting adventure. In addition, Wreck-It Ralph is intricate for a Disney story, so I'll resist recounting the entire story for fear of spoiling the fun of the ride.

Back to our terribly likable villain (from an audience standpoint). Poor Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) hates his thankless job ("It's hard to like your job when no one loves you for doing it"), but he enjoys no free will and is therefore forced to repeatedly act out planned fits of combativeness that result in destroyed buildings in the "Fix-It Felix Jr." game universe. In turn, he is also doomed to be defeated each and every day by Felix (Jack McBrayer), who is the game's hero that repairs all of Ralph's unwitting damage. Ralph's recycled fate is kind of a raw deal and a terrible profession for a video game character to endure; he's tired of the endless humiliation and ready to put an end to it.

He's not alone in his disgruntled villain status either, for Ralph often spends his after hours at Grand Game Central, a surge protector/terminal in the arcade where various game characters meet each evening. Ralph finds himself attending (very cute) "Bad-Anon" meetings where he begins to hatch a plan for sneaking into another game in the arcade to win a medal and, hopefully, win the respect of the Nicelanders from his game. This is a tough order, for the Nicelanders are faithfully devoted to Felix and, to succeed, Ralph must also abide by the many rules of the arcade. Most importantly, if Ralph gets killed in a game other than his home game, he'll never be resurrected to fight another round anywhere. To complicate matters, there's a nasty virus working its way throughout the arcade's conduits in the form of spider-like creatures called Cy-Bugs.

During his quest, Ralph finds a quick friend in Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a sweet, zany little "glitch" who resides in the "Sugar Rush Speedway" game and not only gives Ralph a run for his coveted medal but also helps him learn from her own thwarted goals to try and race in her own game. Vanellope gives him a reason to care about someone else when she falls into harm's way. Together, Ralph and Vanellope make quite the odd, mismatched, comedic pair (she a hyperactive, sarcastic little bit and he's a world-weary, yet ultimately sincere 600-pound giant) but are so endearing that one cannot help but root for them. They are each appropriately voiced by Reilly and Silverman (with ready aid and opposition from characters voiced by Jane Lynch, Mindy Kaling, and Ed O'Neill), and while the film's frenetic pace isn't quite ADD-friendly, it definitely moves at a very swift pace and will refuse to let even the most cynical viewer grow bored.

Overall, this film features a good time for both boys and girls, and their parents will enjoy the heady trip into their own childhoods without ruining memories like Hollywood tends to do (see Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks). Wreck-It Ralph not only features stellar visuals but also a shit ton of character development. As an added bonus, I appreciate the hell out of a Disney flick that doesn't revolve around princesses. Go watch Wreck-It Ralph before it gets spoiled by the inevitable sequel.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jeremy Carrier

    Wreck-It Ralph was good, but can we talk about Paperman? Was that not the cutest thing you've seen all year? Was that not the most amazing stride in mainstream animation since the 1990s?

    Disney, get to work on an entire film based on this style, pls.

  • Drake

    Took the kids Saturday, and actually enjoyed the hell out of it. Clever visuals, decent plot, good characters. I think I enjoyed it more than the kids did.

  • Drake

    I should add, for all the people doing Pixar comparisons, that I thought this was a better film than Brave.

  • Stephen Nein

    Do not walk, run to see this film. It's easily one of the best Disney has done without the Pixar brand, 2-D or 3-D animation be damned.

  • Sassafrass Green

    Can we not forget that Alan Tudyk was amazing as King Candy?

  • SugarSmak

    Has anyone seen this in 3D? I'm curious if it's worth the upgrade.

  • Ley

    I just watched it and it was pretty awesome. Plenty of jokes besides the video game references. Pretty simple plot, and it does goes on pretty fast (kinda like when you're playing your favourite video game). It's isn't Toy-Story-good but it doesn't have to be. During the end credits, I may have overheard somebody in my theater telling his girlfriend this was a Pixar movie.

    Venellope (the little girl with Sarah Silverman's voice) is sure to be a hit with the kiddies, as well as the Interwebz.

  • PDamian

    I *lurved* this film. I particularly liked the candy and cookie "characters;" they're not mentioned in any reviews I've read, but they really help make the film ("Oh-REE-oh! Ohhhh-ree-OH!"). My only disappointment was that Centipede, Duck Hunt and Galaga (my personal faves) don't show up in the film.

  • Very creative. Felt like a Pixar movie... well, almost at least.

  • Stephen Nein

    Oh, good - something that we all want to see. If I sit through another Madagascar 3, there's going to be one more gypsy.

  • Emily

    I’m glad this movie keeps getting such good reviews! I’m definitely planning to see it. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to go see movies in the theater these days, as my job at DISH keeps me fairly busy. I’m planning to add it to my Blockbuster @ Home queue instead. When it comes out on DVD, it’ll show up in my mailbox and my gamer boyfriend and I can have a movie night. Should be fun!

  • Stephen Nein

    I feel vaguely dirty after reading this commentbomb.

  • John G.

    ADD-friendly is not me-friendly.

  • TheAggroCraig

    The short that precedes the movie, "Paperman", is gorgeous, too.

  • Stephen Nein

    You undersell that short - it's easily an equal to "Presto" in story & heart. The animation is absolutely, shamefully gorgeous.

  • Ley

    I sincerely hope Disney makes a movie with the animation style in that short. Seems a good style to use if you want to tell a good story.

  • PDamian

    It really was lovely, wasn't it? The female character looked a bit like a cross between Belle and Ariel.

  • Green Lantern

    "Wreck-It Ralph 2: The Wreckoning!"

    Actually I can't wait to see this. I'm even thinking of springing for the fully full-on 3D treatment.

  • estrella82

    I was dragged along to see this last night by a guy friend with massive video game nostalgia, and was pleasantly surprised. This review is spot-on, I thought the plot was decent, there was character development galore, and it actually made me feel some true raw emotions at times (something I usually strive to avoid).

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