Here is Disney really trying to be Pixar. Wreck-It Ralph, a movie that opens with a cute, unrelated short film, is essentially a new take on Toy Story. It is set in a world much like our own, save for one difference: video game characters are alive and do things while arcades are closed. Wait, actually two differences: arcades still exist and children go play in them every day AND video game characters are alive and do things while arcades are closed.
Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain of “Fix-It Felix,” a game that looks to be the reverse of Rampage, in which players (as the aforementioned Felix, played by Jack McBrayer) repair buildings destroyed by Ralph. The problem is, Ralph is pretty sick of being the bad guy. So he decides to prove himself by entering other games and winning a medal, so that he might bring it back and be accepted by the other characters in his game. But, you know, you shouldn’t do that.
This movie starts out extremely well. There are lots of references to classic video games, even some slightly obscure ones (for example, Tapper gets a lot of play). Unfortunately, Ralph stops jumping between games pretty early on, when we get into the world of “Sugar Rush.” At this point, all the heavy product placement switches from video games to candy, and we’re left mostly to deal with the movie’s invented world and characters.
Those characters are played by a pretty solid cast. I wouldn’t say Reilly or McBrayer are anywhere near outside of their depth, but they both play roles they are good in. Sarah Silverman I think is actually the MVP cast member, doing a pretty great job bringing a lot to her role as a mischievous little girl. Jane Lynch rounds out the cast, and while I’d never complain about her being in anything, I didn’t think her voice quite matched the character she was playing, a tough space marine. I would have rather the part been played by one of the few video game VO actresses who get that part all the time, like Jennifer Hale. But this is a Hollywood movie, that’s not going to happen.
People were talking so positively about Wreck-It Ralph that I got pretty excited about seeing it, but I don’t think it’s a must-see. I don’t see a lot of animated movies, so I don’t have much of a frame of reference, but I thought it was pretty entertaining, and plenty enjoyable enough for an adult. The kids sitting in front of Colin and I at theater were jumping up and down during the movie, so I guess it was good for them too. I just wish it had done more with its premise. At least there weren’t any Angry Birds cameos.