Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.
Release Date: November 2nd, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Rich Moore Actors: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Rachael Harris
he “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” arcade game features a villain who wrecks buildings and a hero who repairs them for points and to advance in levels. Like “Toy Story,” when the facilities are not occupied by human presence, behind the screen, the characters are living, thinking, emotional creatures. They possess the ability to pass through electrical wires and surge protectors into Game Central Station, where they can enter other connected arcade games (reckless game-jumping is referred to as “going turbo”).
Generally, they are simply stuck in the cycle of following their own game’s programming, repetitively acting out the introductions and subsequent levels of the game as it’s intended to be played. Peculiarly, outside of the boundaries of the game design, the characters can conduct themselves in any manner they choose, but most are relegated to living in areas representative of their scripted origins and only associating with likeminded individuals. In other words, bad guys remain bad guys and good guys remain good guys even when their games are no longer being played.
On the 30th anniversary of “Fix-It Felix, Jr.,” villain Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) attends Bad-Anon, located inside the “Pac-Man” game, where other villains gather to talk about their jobs, destinies, and acceptance of their roles. When Ralph finds out he wasn’t invited to the anniversary party, he’s told by the town mayor that he’ll never be accepted by the good guys until he can win a medal himself – something never done by villains. He goes rogue, skipping out on his own game, to enter “Hero’s Duty,” a dark, violent, science-fiction adventure game where he cheatingly snags a gold medal – only to lose it to Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), an annoying little girl from the sickly sweet kid’s game “Sugar Rush.” In his attempts to regain his precious medallion, he’s repeatedly reminded that if you die outside of your own game, you don’t regenerate… ever. Matters are complicated further when a killer cybug from “Hero’s Duty” is also transported into “Sugar Rush.”
“Wreck-It Ralph” is incredibly creative, making nonstop jokes via several angles of video game spoofing. First person shooters, glitches, shortcuts, backstories, sound effects, bonus levels and more are parodied for continual laughs. The rights to duplicate famous video game characters were obtained, allowing the film to showcase quite a few recognizable creations, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Zangief and M. Bison from “Street Fighter,” and characters from “Mario” and “Pac-Man.” In the “Sugar Rush” game, they also cleverly make use of dozens of copyrighted candy brands.
Outside of the hilarious nods to famous arcade games, the dialogue is also exceptionally keen. Not only is it funny, but it also includes a bit of deeper analysis on what it takes to be a good guy, some unexpected mortality issues, a bit of love, acceptance of oneself, and the mistreatment of the misunderstood. It wisely addresses subjects that will appeal to adults just as much as children. Younger audiences will probably dismiss most of the weirder, more mature, intense moments anyway; meanwhile, they provide several of the most genuine bits of humor for the crowds that appreciate darker gags with their family-friendly films.
– Mike Massie