Wreck-It Ralph imagines what happens at the video arcade when the doors are shut for the night. It is a wildly original idea from Disney and director Rich Moore and executed with brilliance by its cast, led by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.
Reilly voices Wreck-It Ralph as a lovable oaf, who just happens to be an 8-bit video game bad guy. As his game is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, Ralph comes to the realization that there must be more to life than trashing an apartment building while the hero, who his game is named after -- Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) -- sweeps in behind him, repairs what Ralph’s broken, saves the day and is given a medal by the building’s residents for his heroism. Ralph wants a medal around his neck for being so good at being bad!
He’s been doing this for 30 years without complaint and simply wants to be included in the celebration. It’s clear that in order to be considered a hero, in the eyes of the game’s residents, one must earn a medal. Knowing he won’t get one while that Felix character is king of the neighborhood, Ralph seeks his medal of heroism elsewhere in the arcade.
You see when the lights go down, the video game characters with their various forms, shapes, sizes, modus operandi and the like, can do what they want behind the glass wall that separates game from gamer. They can also go through the power cord of the game into Game Central Station, a bustling center. As Ralph leaves his Bad Guy Anonymous meeting (a hilarious scene!), it is impossible to miss the dozens of video game character cameos frantically running through Game Central. Ralph even steals a cherry from Pac-Man.
Ralph’s on a mission, so first he heads into a game called Hero’s Duty, which is led by a militaristic woman (Jane Lynch) who quarter after quarter leads squadrons against the bug invaders. The soldier who kills the most, you guessed it, gets a medal. Ralph is tough, but Reilly’s inflection when the game starts as Ralph says, “When did video games get so violent?” is not only hilarious, but spot-on.
It’s that type of intelligence that Wreck-It Ralph possesses that constantly winks to not only video game icons, but also pop culture icons -- for example the video game Sugar Rush, which Ralph winds up in after fleeing the bug-infested war game.
Sugar Rush is clearly a video game version of Candyland and the subtle jokes are littered throughout the confectionery landscape. It is there that Ralph meets his match in a little girl who dreams of being a race driver in her game.
As shown in this Wreck-It Ralph clip, Vanellope is played with perfect pitch by Silverman who steals the entire movie with her cutesy meets clever character. It is by far the best work of the comedienne’s career as she completely loses herself in not only the part with childish demeanor, but the entire Wreck-It Ralph world.
As this is a Disney film, there are messages galore in Wreck-It Ralph, including accepting oneself. Yet, the film is not a hit you over the head message movie. Instead, it's a ride through nostalgia, hope, camaraderie and complete and utter charm.