Release date: November 2, 2012
Director: Rich Moore
Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee & Phil Johnston
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill
Uniting the world of video games with movies in a clever and inventive way, director Rich Moore gives Disney quite a pleasantly entertaining animated feature with Wreck-It Ralph.
The movie follows Wreck-It Ralph (Reilly), a bad guy in an arcade game called Fix-It Felix Jr, who longs to be loved instead of hated by the town. In the arcade world, characters have the ability to jump from game to game, and Ralph takes this opportunity to become a hero elsewhere and get a medal. Little does he know his journey will take him to foreign games, like Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush, where he places himself, other characters, and the entire arcade in danger.
Given the abundance of terrible films based off video games, it’s refreshing to see a movie about video games that doesn’t need to draw from any existing source. Writers Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston may follow a more or less predictable route, but that’s not surprising when it comes to a kid’s movie. One scene in particular with Ralph at a “Bad-Anon” meeting with fellow villains might remind some of the Toy Story short Small Fry, but on a whole this proves to be quite an original piece for Disney. What stands out the most in their writing is the way the characters interact, the story moves swiftly, with just the right mix of humor and sentimentality.
Rather than limit itself to one form of animation, Wreck-It Ralph sometimesderails from its smooth, beautiful style and adapts to the game being inhabited. It’s no Pixar film, but it definitely gets the job done, especially in some race scenes that were exactly the sort of fun, thrilling ride that Speed Racer should have been. Even when dozens of existing video game characters — from Sonic to Pacman — are included, they don’t feel out of place and definitely don’t take away from the animation style. This is a movie that should pride itself on the nuanced details, like the quick, classic game-like movements of every citizen of Felix and Ralph’s game in comparison to the fluidity of other characters.
Considering Rich Moore’s work as director and supervising director on many of the better episodes of shows like The Simpsons (Homer vs Lisa and the Eighth Commandment, A Streetcar Named Marge) and Futurama (Jurassic Bark), it’s easy to say his debut feature will become a fan favorite among young adults, particularly those who love games and television. Moore knows his audience, and takes special care in crafting a movie just for them, even choosing voice actors from all realms that fit their characters perfectly: Oscar nominee John C. Reilly, comedian Sarah Silverman, 30 Rock favorite Jack McBrayer, Emmy winner Jane Lynch, and Firefly’s Alan Tudyk.
In addition to Wreck-It Ralph’s colorful and engaging world, Disney follows tradition by presenting a short film at the start, and boy is this one of their best works yet. If you’re not convinced about the feature, the short Paperman should be your biggest motive for going to watch this in theaters. John Kahrs delivers one of the most beautifully animated films in Disney’s long history, and it’s a fun, heartwarming treat that audiences won’t soon forget.
Whether you fall in love with the animation, the story, the characters, or even the bubbly soundtrack that features artists like Owl City and AKB48, Wreck-It Ralph is yet another great animated feature to add to this year.