Just because a Disney computer animated film is missing that Pixar label doesn’t mean it’s a lesser Disney title. TANGLED helped to make that previous statement not seem as bold as it seems, just as CARS 2 also helped on the other side of the spectrum that Pixar isn’t always the model for an exceptional computer animated film. WRECK-IT RALPH is just another example that Disney even without Pixar can release super high quality family entertainment that hits the right notes for both the kiddos and their young at heart parents.
Set in a world in the same vein as TOY STORY where the characters of video games come to life even after the lights of the Arcade are shut off for the night. One character, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), of the game Fix It Felix is treated as an outcast for being the bad guy of his particular game and is at a point that he’s tired of being underappreciated after he’s excluded from the game’s 30th anniversary party. Ralph goes rogue by game jumping in order to win a medal to prove that he can be a good guy and in the process meets a girl, Penelope (Sarah Silverman), that’s also treated like an outcast in her racing game world of Sugar Rush. When Penelope uses Ralph’s medal from a previous game to enter a race in order to be added to the game’s roster Ralph has to help her become a winner in order to get his medal back and learn an important lesson along the way.
I really enjoyed this film, but I have to at least acknowledge the fact that as visually rich as it is and emotionally satisfying, it still isn’t quite at the level of the best that Disney and Pixar together have released in theaters. That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the levels of animation and emotion that the story is able to reach. The video game worlds that are on display here are dazzling at times in terms of set pieces, but also in imagination. It might seem hokey and too on the nose for some, but for me, the puns and visual jokes used all worked to great effect for me.
John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack MacBrayer and Alan Tudyk are perfectly cast for the characters they are voicing. In the sugar rush world all the characters have names that play off of sweet treats which only adds to the cute factor in that particular setting, which might be annoying for some, but one joke that never got old for me was the cops in Sugar Rush which were donuts named Duncan and Wynchell. Tudyk is the hardest of voices to pick out in the bunch because he- in an inspired choice- dawns an impression of Ed Wynn in the film as Sugar Rush’s King Candy and it fits the style of the world itself and adds brilliantly to the film in general.
The animation is at or near top notch, which is evident in some of the more action heavy parts of the movie especially in the first person shooter game when there are hundreds of thousands of alien bugs flying around in a deep and richly detailed environment. The same goes for the Sugar Rush environment as well as there are plenty of fun and imaginative designs that make the film tons of fun to look at. It is also fun to look at the way the 8-bit graphics translate from the screen to when we as an audience see the world from the inside along with the how it is all of these worlds interact with one another. The script employs a great amount of mythology that’s easy for kids to grasp, but even more fun for nostalgic parents to dive into.
It’s sad for me to say that the only beef I have with WRECK-IT RAPLH is the fact that it isn’t quite as emotionally resonant as previous Disney Pixar team ups, but it is pretty darn close. The animation and design of this world is imaginative, fun and visually striking without ever being too much to take in. I sat watching the film laughing at every game related joke and admiring the fantastic animation, appreciating the film’s ability to be accessible to both kids and adults and in the end WRECK-IT RALPH easily won me over.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)