What happens when you take one of the best writers from ‘The Simpsons’, combine him with one of the most creative animation studios in Hollywood, and give them some of the best working comedians today? You come up with one of the most brilliant, fun, and hugely heartfelt movies to come out of Disney Animation Studios in quite some time, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’. Directed by Rich Moore, best known for his work on ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Futurama’, ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ transports us into the world of video games in a way you never thought you’d see, and you may never look at games the same way again. The incredibly talented voice cast, lead by Academy Award nominated actor John C. Reilly(‘Step Brothers’, ‘Chicago’) as Ralph, also features Sarah Silverman(‘The Sarah Silverman Program’, ‘School of Rock’) as Vanellope von Schweetz, one of the most adorable video game characters you may ever see, Jack McBrayer (’30 Rock’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall), as Fix-it Felix, Jr., the hero of his game ‘Fix-it Felix, Jr.’, and Ralph’s foe, Jane Lynch (‘Glee’, ‘Role Models’) as the hardened Sergeant Calhoun of the game ‘Heroes Duty’, and Alan Tudyk (‘Firefly’, ‘Suburgatory’) as King Candy, the ruler of ‘Sugar Rush’, a racing game in the vein of ‘Mario Kart’. With such great talent working behind the scenes, it would be hard for a movie like this to falter. Thankfully, it doesn’t, and with some incredible writing and a well made story, ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ is one of Walt Disney Animation’s strongest films to date, and one people will be falling in love with for years.
When the arcade closes down for the evening, all the arcade characters finally get to rest and live their lives outside of the game. Unfortunately for Ralph (Reilly), he doesn’t have much of a life outside his game. Ralph is the villain of the game ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr.’, and villains don’t get much love. Unhappy with how his life has become, Ralph decides to journey outside of his game to get a heroes medal, so that the people in his game will love him as much as they love Felix (McBrayer). He doesn’t want to be the villain anymore, and he’ll do anything to change his fate. Ralph’s quest leads him into new and exciting games, such as ‘Heroes Duty’ and ‘Sugar Rush’, where Ralph simply doesn’t belong. Making new friends, like Venellope (Silverman), and enemies along the way, Ralph’s journey becomes one of self discovery, and ultimately, he’ll learn what it means to be true to yourself.
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is that rare family movie that isn’t made with the specific aim of entertaining children, and that’s what helps make the movie stand above so many family films that come out. For a movie so full of humor, sometimes it’s hard to balance humor that is is aimed at kids, and other humor that is aimed at adults. If you go too far over one way or the other, it changes who the film is for, and it can alienate people. But Moore, who is no stranger to this type of balance after all his work on ‘The Simpsons’, pulls it off incredibly well, making a movie for everyone. The kids will love Ralph and Vanellope, and the banter they share back and forth, which at times is so childish you can’t help but smile, because it’s just an amazingly true over exaggeration to the way kids talk. But parents and teenagers will love some of the humor more aimed directly at them. Kids will laugh, but they won’t realize just why it’s so funny, or the way the payoff has been set up, especially those parents who are fans of many of these older arcade games that we see in the film. The movie is absolutely hilarious, and will be one that will be quoted for years. In a way, it’s very similar to Sony Animation’s ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’. They share a very similar sense of humor, and it’s balanced the same way.
But the movie isn’t all comedy, it’s also full of heart, which really makes it thrive. Even though Ralph is a villain, you can’t help but absolutely love his character, and you want so badly to see him finally get a chance to change his life. It’s his journey that we fall in love with, but he isn’t the only one who has a journey. Each one of the main characters goes through some sort of journey and transformation, none of which felt tacked on or out of place, which is incredible to me. Vanellope’s story especially, which sort of is a mirror for Ralph’s with the idea of acceptance for being different, is one of the truly most heartbreaking and moving in the movie, and a scene between her and Ralph towards the end of the film is easily one of the most moving and heartbreaking scenes to be featured. . Thankfully, much of the side plots haven’t been shown much in the trailers, which is good, so a lot of what is shown and seen is going to be new to the viewer. It’s a truly remarkable job on the marketing front that they’ve managed to hide so much, and easily one of the best in recent memory.
The cast of the movie really helps bolster the film greatly, as they are essentially the backbone of the film. In order for us to care about the characters and their stories, the actors have to be able to convey what the script calls for, and all the actors were easily up the challenge here. John C. Reilly as Ralph is easily the highlight of the picture, he’s so funny as the big lug that it’s impossible not to love him. His perfect line delivery really brings Ralph to life, especially in the more serious parts of the film. Silverman is quite good as well as Vanellope, which was a pleasant surprise. Her voice is actually perfect for this little nine year old racer, and she actually brings a lot of heart and humor to the character. Jane Lynch is a bit typecast as the hardened woman with a dark past, but she is always so good in those roles, it’s no wonder why Moore wanted her. She just oozes charisma, making her character so likable. But the two stand outs are Jack McBrayer and Alan Tudyk, as Felix and King Candy, respectively. McBryaer is so great as the soft spoken hero of his own game, one who doesn’t think of himself as a hero, and just someone who wants to help those who need it. He’s very funny, and so perfect in the role. The chemistry he and Reilly share together in their scenes is absolutely electric, showing just how perfect the two of them were for the role. Then there’s Alan Tudyk, whose King Candy is a very flamboyant, yet secretive character, who you aren’t really sure if you can trust. Tudyk’s voice is almost unrecognizable, which just goes to show how good he really is in the role. Every time the character is on the screen, he will have your full and undivided attention because Tudyk just made the character so interesting.
Visually, the movie is absolutely breathtaking. The Disney animators had one heck of a time making this movie, that’s for sure. The worlds that they got to create for this video game world are truly remarkable, my personal favorite being ‘Sugar Rush’. It’s visual eye candy, and I couldn’t help but want to explore that world more. ‘Heroes Duty as well’ was really well put together. It’s a mix between ‘Halo’ and ‘Call of Duty’, and you can see that influence. The world of ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr.’ is quite amazing as well. They perfectly pull off the look and feel of an 8 bit world in a CGI environment, down to the way the characters move, which really makes it that much more amazing. All the worlds that the animators created are nothing short of amazing, which isn’t hard to believe. It’s easily one of Disney’s most gorgeous looking films.
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is pure escapism filmmaking at its finest, and top tier when it comes to Disney movies. It has a lot of heart, it’s absolutely hilarious, and it’s highly quotable. Bolstered by an excellent cast and a great story, the movie shines from beginning to end, proving once again why Disney Animation Studios has lasted as long as it has. As their 52 film, it’s easily one that can be in at least the top 20. Video game fans, adults, and kids will absolutely fall in love with the characters and the story, and there’s no doubt that Disney will have a new hit on their hands. This is not only one of the best films of the year, but the best animated film of the year. It’s easily worth your time and money.
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