I’m gonna wreck it!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what should easily be lauded as the best animated film of the year. Wreck-It Ralph is insanely fun and an astonishing work of imaginative animation. And I stress imaginative here, as it presents a world that most certainly doesn’t exist outside of one’s mind.
Wreck-It Ralph puts on display the world of video games and video game characters. There is an arcade filled with games both old and new, one of which is called “Fix-It Felix Jr.”, a game in which one character, Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), wrecks a building while the person playing the game — as Fix-It Felix Jr. (voiced by Jack McBrayer) — swoops in to save the day and fix the building.
Ralph is the bad guy, and after 30 years, he’s sick of it. He doesn’t receive any recognition, isn’t liked by those within the game’s world, and is never given the chance to win a medal, like Felix.
Outside of arcade hours, the characters in each and every arcade game are free to leave their respective games and head over to Game Central, a Grand Central Station-esque hub that is actually a surge protector bringing all of their worlds together. It’s quite clever, really, and this is the set-up for the plot of the film. Sick and tired of being the bad guy, and egged on by a bet between himself and a penthouse patron in his own game, Ralph seeks to become a hero by throwing himself into another game.
The catch: if you die in another game, you die for good, and Ralph, unfortunately chose a bad game in which to make his foray into heroism — “Hero’s Duty”, a deadly first person shooter akin to “Halo” that lands him directly in the line of fire.
Needless to say, his first attempt at heroism doesn’t go so well, and Ralph makes a second stop in a much friendlier world, that of “Sugar Rush”, a candy-coated kart racing game much like “Mario Kart.” Here, Ralph meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman), a glitch in her own game who also has a lofty goal: winning a time trial so she can be among the next day’s set of racers. It just so happens that the winner gets a medal, so Ralph begrudgingly befriends Vanellope and works to help her win the time trial. But King Candy (voiced by Alan Tudyk) and the other racers aren’t so keen on letting a glitch join their roster, and will stop at nothing to keep her from crossing the finish line.
Meanwhile, Fix-It Felix Jr. and Calhoun — a tough-as-nails soldier from “Hero’s Duty”, voiced by Jane Lynch– are on the hunt to find Ralph and bring him back to his game console and save the arcade from a deadly bug that Ralph has accidentally unleashed.
There are a host of other fun characters and worlds in Wreck-It Ralph, as well as many nods to the world of video games, including the use of the Konami code (up-up, down-down, left-right, left-right, B, A, start) that anyone with even a sliver of video game knowledge is likely to enjoy to the nth degree. But, and I stress this, you don’t need to be a gamer of any sort to like this film. It is a flat-out fun movie, a highly original animated tale that is more akin to something you would find from the minds over at Pixar than at parent company Disney. But after this and 2010’s Tangled it seems as though Disney is on a bit of a hot streak.
The voice-acting in Wreck-It Ralph is tremendous, but throughout the film I found my self in awe of the worlds of each of these games. I can’t imagine all the work that went into creating each and every one of them, and bringing their respective characters to life can’t have been an easy task. I actually saw a book at Barnes & Noble last night, after the film, on the art of Wreck-It Ralph, and after a brief gander considered buying it, before looking at the $35 price tag and nearly spitting out my water. Still, I’m stunned by the imagination and artistry that went into this film, high-priced book and all.
I don’t know how much more there really is to say, other than that if you haven’t yet seen Wreck-It Ralph, you are truly missing out. It is original, imaginative, and most importantly, one heck of a fun ride.