johnlink ranks WRECK-IT RALPH (2012)

WRECK-IT RALPH was a major holiday Disney release, done without the Pixar stamp. It is interesting to note the two separate animation studios under the one Disney umbrella. Walt Disney Animation Studios has stuck to more of the kid stuff, while Pixar has been widely acclaimed for its agelessness. The former has put out the recent WINNIE THE POOH and TANGLED and BOLT while Pixar has been making hit after hit with MONSTERS UNIVERSITY being the most recent release. With WRECK-IT RALPH, however, WDAS had a movie which looked to be made with the curiosity, retro reach, and attention to detail Pixar is famous for. So how did it turn out?


I watched WRECK-IT RALPH (2012) on 7.12.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

There are large sections of this movie which are extremely enjoyable. I really appreciate the set-up, I really enjoyed the third act. It’s the middle where it gets bogged down and mostly stuck in neutral.

Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the King-Kong like villain in a 30 year-old arcade classic called Fix-It Felix. Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) is a hero to his game, and to the greater video game population. You see, when the lights go out the characters from the games can travel between worlds and share a beer. They gather in Game Central Station, and then onto the different respective games.

Ralph has begun to hate his life, so he is considering the possibility of committing the greatest sin: jumping out of his game. When he finally does this, he ends up in a couple of different worlds. First, a Halo like man-versus-bug action game, and then a Mario Kart clone called Sugar Rush. There he meets an outcast little girl named Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) and they form a love-hate relationship. Vanellope is a glitch: she sometimes reverts to jerky movement and pixilation as she moves. She is feared and disliked by the other characters, because they fear that her inclusion in the game would lead to kids thinking the game was broken and the game being unplugged and put into storage (many of the ideas of dependency here are more than subtle mirrors to similar themes of TOY STORY).

When Ralph got to Sugar Rush, it was maybe 25 minutes into the movie. I was sure he had several games left to go. Nope. The entire rest of the action of the film, primarily, happens in that game. We get to game hop a little in the first act of the movie, but once this thing settles in it doesn’t really push us to new places.

And that is too bad. The world creation here is solid, but it feels like the filmmakers just didn’t have enough time or creativity to tap into all the things they could have. Ralph sharing the world with Sonic, and the Street Fighter guys, and Q-Bert is a fun gimmick. Unfortunately, it feels as though the jokes they used were the easiest ones to pull off the shelf. I felt like WRECK-IT RALPH merely scratched the surface of potential there is in mining the colorful and vast video game universe.

So, yes, it is funny. It’s heartwarming and cute. It’s enjoyable enough (except for a weak twenty minutes in the middle). It made me laugh several times, and it never made me feel like I was watching a bad movie. But, I did feel like I didn’t get all I could out of it. Maybe they are saving it for a sequel. I’d certainly watch one, and hope they moved on to bigger and better things.





~ by johnlink00 on July 13, 2013.

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