Friday, March 22, 2013

Wreck-it Ralph

Directed by Rich Moore.
2012. Rated PG, 108 minutes.

Jack McBrayer
Ed O’Neill
Dennis Haysbert
Mindy Kaling
Adam Carolla

Wreck-it Ralph (Reilly) is the bad guy in the video game “Fix-it Felix Jr.” To paraphrase another character, this doesn’t necessarily make him a bad guy. Still, Fix-it Felix Jr. is the game’s hero. At the end of a long shift, when the arcade closes, Felix and the other good guys hang out in their plush apartments having parties and generally schmoozing. Meanwhile, Ralph lives all alone on a pile of bricks, using a tree stump for a pillow. This has been going on for thirty years and he would like it to change. That means finding a way to win a medal, which only good guys can do. Ralph ventures from game to game in the arcade to break that rule and claim his prize.

As any movie based on a video game universe should be, Wreck-it Ralph is driven by sights and sounds. Brilliant colors and crisp noise keep our eyes dancing and our ears perked. There are also plenty of familiar characters from actual old school games who make cameos, so older viewers may experience some serious nostalgia. Even the main characters owe a debt to the game “Donkey Kong” for their existence. These characters, and the ones we’re introduced to for the first time, feel like an honest fleshing out of their pixilated counterparts. I have but one minor complaint about the visuals. There isn’t quite as much difference as I hoped to see between current-gen characters and those from games of a bygone era. However, that’s completely understandable. It would be kind of hard to sell a kids movie where most of the principals are jagged and blurry. I guess that makes it a “me” problem.

Thankfully, there’s more to this movie than being pretty and loud. It eventually becomes a redemption tale. That much is expected. What’s not is the complexity of the redeeming and how many actually go through it. It’s not at all hard to follow so don’t worry about that. It’s not preachy, either, so no need to worry there. The story is told in a manner that works on the surface and still works after a little digging. Don’t dig too much, mind you, but a little is okay.

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