REVIEW: Wreck-It Ralph

15 12 2012

Wreck It RalphI think Disney got their brands switched up this year.  “Wreck-It Ralph” felt like the real Pixar movie, and “Brave” felt like the kind of fun but unmemorable Disney animated movie from the people who brought you “Tangled.”

Much to my surprise, “Wreck-It Ralph” left me walking away with a wide grin and a full heart, something that the Pixar movies of my youth like “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo” did so well.  It’s a movie with undeniable charm and a winning spirit, one that envelops you in a giant bear hug.  Not to mention, it also boasts a brilliant script with pop culture references and cleverly constructed worlds and humor not unlike what DreamWorks Animation did particularly well in the “Shrek” films.

It also rolls deep with an impressive voice cast, adding another dimension of enjoyment to the proceedings.  They could not have picked a better person than John C. Reilly to play Wreck-It Ralph.  As a video-game villain who just wants people to recognize him, Reilly is able to bring all the same sympathetic sad-sack pity that he used as Amos Hart (Mr. Cellophane) in “Chicago.”  The innocence in his voice and the yearning to be accepted come across in Ralph’s first monologue, and we are on his side from the get-go as he tries to find someone to appreciate him.

Vanellope and Wreck-It Ralph

Jack McBrayer (best known as Kenneth the Page from “30 Rock”) brings a constant perkiness and optimism to the heroic Fix-It Felix, Ralph’s arch-nemesis in the game, further underscoring Ralph’s fatalism in feeling unrecognized.  So one morning, seeing the opportunity to win a medal and convince people of his importance, he flees to the game Hero’s Duty.  Though the tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (a perfectly cast Jane Lynch) denies him the opportunity to win it legitimately, he sneaks around the game and takes the medal for himself.

But he also winds up getting entangled with a cy-bug, a nasty virus that wouldn’t look out of place in an “Alien” film, that launches him into a whole other game: Sugar Rush.  The makers of “Wreck-It Ralph” really make a delicious confection with this world and hit the sweet spot.  They hilariously contort just about every candy to fit into this world – heck, they even have a Diet Coke and Mentos geyser!  The ingenuity that pervades this movie is truly astounding, and every new locale in Sugar Rush leads to a surprising new revelation that smacks a smile on your face.

However, the most delectable thing about the movie might be Sarah Silverman’s spunky little Vanellope von Schweetz, an adorable tyke to rival Agnes of “Despicable Me.”  She’s an upstart racer denied the right to compete because she is a “glitch,” a character with technical flaws and thus an inferior being in the world of the game.  But she doesn’t let that get her down and maintains a positive attitude always as she merely finds a sneaky way around the restraints on her.  Vanellope’s positivity and perseverance inspire Ralph, who looks to others to provide his sense of self-worth.  Through their fun adventures, she shows him that he doesn’t need medals to lavish commendations to be happy.

Really, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a movie about love – and no, I don’t just mean that I love this movie (and I do).  It identifies a simplified truth that nearly all the problems in the world are a result of the absence of love or not loving fully.  Once we accept, forgive, and love, wounds can heal and hearts can mend.  That’s a message not just for the kids; it’s for everyone.  A-3halfstars

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