Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and Jane Lynch.

Ralph (John. C. Reilly) is the bad guy in a video game, and although he’s just playing the role given him, he’s tired of being the bad guy because the other denizens of his video game shun him, having condo parties without him while he sleeps in the dump outside of town. In the arcade’s off-hours, video game characters hang out with each other, even leaving their game cabinets to socialize with each other in each others’ games, including the bar in which the 1983 coin-op Tapper is set. Ralph attends a support group for video game bad guys, affirming with the group, “I am bad and that’s good. I will never be good and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” Only Ralph doesn’t really mean it. He wants to be a good guy.

Since his own game is set up not to allow him to win the medal his game’s protagonist always wins, Ralph is determined to be a hero in some other video game. He finds himself in a first-person shooter, and then in a cartoony go-kart racing game that looks like a Candyland board game threw up all over it, where he tries to help a girl (Sarah Silverman) gain some respect in her own game in exchange for the medal he’s lost possession of.

It’s actually a pretty clever plot and I’m avoiding giving away the surprises. Devotees of video games from the Eighties will recognize a cool kind of awareness of the gaming world. Silverman’s character, for example, displays characteristics of some of those secret characters some games were known to hide deep in their code, unlockable with elaborate combinations of joystick maneuvers and button-presses. There’s an existential, comic quality to this movie that takes it beyond the usual animated kids’ fare.

And while much of the action is too breakneck and frantic for my movie-going tastes, it’s just right for the video games the film’s action takes place in.

I’ve been down on 3D for years now, but here is a picture whose 3D was almost worth it. I enjoyed the effects despite the still-annoying dimming effect the glasses have on the quality of the image. For maybe the first time ever, I’m going to say you could probably go either way on this one if it’s still being offered in 3D where you are.


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