A Disney short, Paperman, appears before Wreck-It-Ralph (101 minutes). Maybe I am growing cynical in my old age, but I thought it lacked heart. I mean, for a love story, it wasn’t very moving. Plus, like all other Disney created female characters, the love interest is without agency and has a waist so thin she disappears when she turns sideways.
The film is the latest in a series of films that show what happens when inanimate objects stop being polite and start getting real. Apparently, what happens is that they secretly run around, using plugs and fiber optic cables and digital whatchamacallits to conduct intergame travel through a central hub.
The titular hero Wreck-It-Ralph (John C. Reilly) is in the midst of an existential dilemma. Every day, over and over, he wrecks a building, only to have the damage repaired by Fix-It-Felix (Jack McBrayer) while he is thrown into a mud puddle by the building inhabitants. He joins a Villain’s Anonymous group led by Blinky from the Pac-Man game, but upon his return to his own game realizes that everyone from his game is having a big anniversary party for Fix-It-Felix and he wasn’t invited. He shows up anyway and it doesn’t end well.
Ralph goes rogue, determined to win the respect of the other avatars in the game by bringing home a gold medal of some kind. AWOL from his own game, he wanders into another called Hero’s Duty. His first run at the medal is cut short when game character Calhoun (Jane Lynch) catches him during a battle with Cy-bugs, so he sneaks back and grabs the gold, fleeing in a high-tech flying craft.
Too bad a Cy-bug hitched a ride, and the plane caroms out of control, eventually crash landing in a game called Sugar Rush. If you’re going to be trapped in a fantasy land, one made of candy and soda pop isn’t a bad way to go. Except in this case the game is peopled with obnoxious Mean Girl archetypes possessed of both overly cutesy names and basic unpleasantness. Example: Taffyta Muttonfudge (Mindy Kaling) and her girly lollipop guild reenact the scene from Cinderella where the stepsisters rip apart Cinderella’s dress (but with a candy racecar instead of a mouse made dress).
After Ralph crash lands on a fudgy mountain the Cy-bug escapes setting the B plot into motion. Meanwhile, back at the hub, Felix and Calhoun figure out that Ralph ended up in Sugar Rush and head into the game to get him. If Ralph isn’t back where he belongs by the next morning, the Arcade owner Litwak (Ed O’Neill) will shut down his game, leaving the inhabitants of Fix-It-Felix to beg for scraps in the Hub alongside the characters from Q*bert and Pong.
Back in the A plot, Ralph meets a glitchy game character called Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). She has been excluded from the races, but with the help of Ralph figures out a way that she can compete. This bit of the movie drags a bit but that’s okay because I spent this part of the movie dreaming about living in the game Sugar Rush and craving chocolate.
Overall, Ralph has nostalgia appeal, loads of classic video games cameos and John C. Reilly in a starring role. It is very easy to understand why it’s getting rave reviews and making lots of money. I, however, did not really care for it. There’s nothing identifiably wrong with it, and I’m sure it can be enjoyed as a family film. Hey, any movie that puts Alan Tudyk back to work is ok by me! It was just missing the spark that elevates a half-decent movie to a really memorable movie.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.