Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a video game bad guy. After 30 years in the same arcade game, he is upset at being shunned and thought of as a bad guy; that’s only his job. After a party is thrown in honour of Fix-It Felix – the game’s good guy – and he is not invited, Ralph leaves his game and goes on a voyage of self-discovery, wrecking and fixing things along the way.
Wreck-it Ralph is Disney’s 52nd animated feature film to be released in cinemas and the sixth since John Lasseter took over as Chief Creative Officer at Disney. Lasseter’s influence is all over Wreck-It Ralph and the short film that precedes it; Paperman.
Paperman is a silent, black and white animated short that tells the age old story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and sends paper airplanes plying through the city in order to find her. You know the one. The film blends computer and hand drawn animation, for a unique and retro feel and the story is simple but cute, and celebrates the intervention of fate… And paper airplanes. More of this please Disney!
Paperman Rating: 5/5
Moving on to the main event… Wreck-It Ralph. The film is Oscar nominated, so that must bode well, right? Well, despite the fact that Brave is also nominated, and was a massive disappointment, yes it does bode well.
As the voice of Ralph, John C. Reilly merges despair and hopefulness in his performance to make Ralph feel well rounded, and his motivations relatable. Sarah Silverman’s trademark semi-annoying voice works well for her character, Venellope, and she quickly becomes one of the sweetest characters in the film. The relationship between Ralph and Venellope is definitely that of the odd couple, but it is endearing and warm.
Jack McBrayer is the voice of do-gooder Felix, which makes sense, Jane Lynch steps in as the military leader of the game Hero’s Duty (which also makes sense), Alan Tudyk channels the Mad Hatter as the Candy King and Mindy Kaling turns up as the wonderfully named Taffyta Muttonfudge. Each gives a wonderful voice performance that adds warmth to this CGI world.
Disney have definitely taken a leaf from early Pixar’s book with the attention to detail in this film. The background of the film is almost as interesting as the main story, and the puns are clever and rather cute. As well as this, it is not essential to have a knowledge of gaming before going to see the film, those who have a working knowledge and can differentiate between Pac Man and Q*Bert will do fine as the main action takes place in fictional games, albeit those inspired by actual games.
The story of Wreck-it Ralph is typical Disney – believe in yourself etc etc – but this is what makes the film work so well. As Ralph discovers that he is perfect as he is, the audience finds themselves rooting for this ‘bad guy’. The use of video games within this story adds a layer of quirkiness and nostalgia, as well as feeling a little like an animated, less scary version of Tron… With candy cars instead of lightcycles.
Director Rich Moore created some of the best, funniest and most heart-warming episodes of Futurama, and he has done the same with Wreck-It Ralph. The familiar story line is given new energy through careful direction and the script by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee. The best jokes are visual and the almost throw away one liners will keep the audience giggling throughout the film.
In all, Wreck-It Ralph is a familiar story given a quirky, warm and incredibly entertaining twist. Reilly and Silverman shine and, since the film only explores a handful of games, the stage is set for many many sequels. An idea that is incredibly appealing.