Wreck-It Ralph, the newest animated film from Disney, certainly isn’t a wreck of a movie. Like many of its predecessors, it’s a visual stunner: the graphics are spot-on, the animation is imaginative and the conception of Ralph’s world is detailed and fascinating. While the story depth can’t quite match Pixar’s Wall-E and Up, and the humor is overdone, Wreck-It Ralph is still an enjoyable ride for all ages.
The movie begins by detailing Wreck-It Ralph’s (John C. Reilly) life as a bad guy in the game Fix it, Felix Jr. Frustrated with being underappreciated and tired of playing second fiddle to Felix (Jack McBrayer), he embarks on a quest that leads him through numerous video game worlds. He finally decides to prove that he, too, can be a good guy.
Wreck-It Ralph is fun to look at—the bright colors and roller coaster zoom shots of racing game Sugar Rush give viewers the feeling of Candy Land brought to life, giving even the 2D version an almost 3D feeling. Overall, the animation is very clever—many of the video game characters are purposely made more jumpy in their movements, reminding the audience that they’re still in a video game, and we’re still dealing with computer code.
Beyond that, the movie does an excellent job of making the lives of the video game characters similar to our own. They have homes and jobs and places they hang out—the writers even slip in references to inefficient bureaucracy with random “security checks” when characters leave games. The pure creativity of how the writers integrate our world with the video game world is part of what makes this movie so much fun. Where Ralph doesn’t get such high marks is humor—surprising for a movie that seemed like a vehicle for laughs. Typically, Disney movies delight both the young and the old, but this movie is geared only toward much younger kids. There are a lot of silly voices and over-the-top antics that simply weren’t funny to anyone older than eight. Furthermore, the writing is not as creative or interesting as it could have been. I kept expecting to laugh or get more out of a scene, but was often disappointed by the dialogue. This movie is a far cry from the whimsy of Up or the clever wordlessness of Wall-E.
These flaws aside, Wreck-It Ralph is an entertaining movie. The soundtrack is composed of Top 40 ear candy and the scenes are often vibrant and engaging enough to offset the screenplay’s shortcomings. At the end of the day, look at it as you would its subject matter: an arcade game. It’s fun to watch and fun to play, but no more than a diversion.