"Wreck-It Ralph" is everything that's right with the current state of the animation genre. Boasting an innovative premise, offering up a whimsical style and featuring excellent characters, this is a treat for children and adults alike. If you like movies, games, well-executed family films or comedy, you'll find much to enjoy here. Essentially, and crucially, this is a very diggable film.
Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in "Fix-It Felix Jr.," an arcade game that's physically located smack dab in the middle of an ocean of racing, shooting and retro games. Ralph's days are rote and unimaginative. He's always wrecking things – that's his role within the game – so he never gets any invites to the hip soirees. Felix (Jack McBrayer) is a nice enough hero within Ralph's world, but that's the precise issue, he's the hero that Ralph will never be allowed to even aspire to be.
"Wreck-It Ralph" is what happens when Ralph stops wrecking things … and starts getting real. There's a bad guy therapy group, a Grand Central Station where all the video game characters congregate, and some legitimate internal logic to the world of the film, as in if you die outside your approved game you, gulp, die for all-time. And then your game gets mothballed! Egads, certainly, but this is the world Ralph finds himself immersed in – he badly wants to be the hero, but lacks the appropriate gear, with danger lurking around every pixelated corner.
So what's a bad guy to do? Ralph game jumps, and this is where the film gains huge momentum, as his quest to become "good" will lead him directly to Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) and the game she's a "glitch" in, appropriately named "Sugar Rush." Vanellope's game is a teeny-bopper racing effort, but she's having a similar issue – she can't even get into the competition! Ralph and Vanellope team up, to great comedic effect, and "Wreck-It Ralph" soars from there.
What definitely clicks with "Wreck-It Ralph" is the game within the game – when you're not being treated to gaming references, you're being inundated by punchlines. This leads to approximately zero percent of the film coming off as slow or boring. This is the rare film that works on about four different levels. Fans of video games will find approximately a billion Easter eggs to enjoy here. From "Street Fighter" to King Koopa, this one has more in-references than a comic-con. The world of "Wreck-It Ralph" is dynamic, and though there are jokes in abundance, they don't come at the expense of the plot momentum.
Silverman adds huge amounts to the entertainment quotient, her smart alec delivery contrasting nicely with Reilly's earnest nature. While we're on the subject of the voicework, Jane Lynch's Sergeant Calhoun gives Ariel, Belle and Jessica Rabbit a run for the "foxiest and funniest virtual creation" title. Sergeant Calhoun plays a similar role to Buzz from "Toy Story," her extreme seriousness about her duty juxtaposed nicely against the surreal and often silly animated background. Indeed, all four of the primary voice actors are exceptional here, providing yet another feather in "Wreck-It Ralph"'s already burgeoning cap.
As such, this is a movie you'll want to witness in the cinema, the bright colors and brighter themes providing maximum captivation. This feels, for all the world, like a Pixar classic, even though it's a Disney movie. Clearly the merger has led to some creative intermingling, and the short that plays before, "Paperman," is also vibrant and compelling. Overall, "Wreck-It Ralph" is as cute as it is clever: a truly adorable winner. And who doesn't love an adorable winner?