For the first time in our lives, I believe, we wished we were total video game geeks. This is because we feel certain that Disney's new animated gem, Wreck-It Ralph, is full of both subtle and not-so-subtle references to classic video games that we simply do not understand. Those homages aside, however, Wreck-It Ralph is accessible fun for movie lovers and Disney fans of all ages and hobbies, and it is probably the best animated film of the year, squeaking by the summer's Brave to claim that coveted title.
Ralph (voiced by John C. Riley) is a old-fashioned 8-bit arcade video game character who is programmed to do one thing and one thing only: wreck things. When he begins to feel unloved and inadequate as a "bad guy", he decides to take matters into his own hands and try to be a hero; this decision goes against the advice of his bad guy counterparts from the other games in the arcade (it turns out that, after hours, the stars of the various games can get together and even visit other games via Game Central Station, a.k.a. the surge protector). While searching for acceptance and the respect of his digital peers, Ralph makes his way through a modern first-person shooter warfare game, and ends up spending most of his time in a cart racing game called Sugar Rush. Along the way, he causes a great deal of chaos, ultimately calling upon his own game's star, Fix-It Felix, Jr., to fix his messes. And he finally finds true friendship in a young girl (Vanellope von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman) who is an outcast in the Sugar Rush universe; their unlikely partnership provides a context for the film's moral message (compassion and help for those who are being bullied or overlooked), and it also furnishes most of the story's most humorous lines. King Candy (Alan Tudyk), the ostensible ruler of the Candy Land-style racing world, is downright hilarious.
This film leans more toward the young children in the audience than some of its Pixar forebears, and there were brief times (albeit few of them) that us adults were bored. But there is so much to love here: an original tale, memorable characters with plenty of laugh lines, eye-poppingly colorful animated settings, and a genuine, welcome message for both old and young alike. Wreck-It Ralph should end up being a classic, and there is almost no doubt that a sequel will come our way just as soon as Disney has the chance to press the reset button.