by Eric D. Snider
Released: November 2, 2012
Whichever Disney employee said, "Let's do 'Toy Story,' but with video game characters," I hope he or she got a big fat raise, if only to compensate for the seething jealousy coming from co-workers kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. It's the kind of forehead-smackingly obvious concept that often results in a cash-grab -- I think sometimes the makers of kids' movies take the expression "It practically writes itself!" too literally -- but "Wreck-It Ralph" is a bubbly, buoyant treat with near-Pixar levels of heart.
The conceit is that the computer-generated people and creatures that populate video games have lives of their own apart from what happens on the screen. After hours, they travel through the extension cords and power strips to other games in the arcade, where they socialize with friends like Broadway actors after curtain call.
Among them is Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), a giant-handed lummox whose job is to destroy stuff in Fix-It Felix so the game's goody-two-shoes title character (Jack McBrayer) can repair it. In other words, Ralph is the bad guy. But he's not a bad person! He's quick to point this out -- not that we need him to, since having the voice of John C. Reilly already signifies that his oafishness is good-natured and harmless.
Ralph struggles with his role in life. "It's hard to love your job when nobody likes you for doing it," he says at the support group for video game villains, where his fellow bad guys (a Pac-Man ghost, Bowser from Super Mario Bros., etc.) nod sympathetically. The characters in his own game treat him like a pariah, not having realized yet that the game -- and thus their very existence -- would be pointless without him.
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Rated PG, mild rude humor and mild action violence
1 hr., 48 min., including the short that precedes it
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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