Wreck-It Ralph pitches detail and comedy just right to give us Disney’s best animation since Princess And The Frog. Harnessing Toy Story-like magic that sees arcade game characters come alive when the kids go home, Wreck-It Ralph is brimming with charm.
Ralph (John C. Reilly) is fed up with the isolation that comes with being the bad guy in retro-arcade game, Fix-It Felix. Excluded by the game’s hero (Jack McBrayer), Ralph decides he must earn his own hero’s medal if he is ever to gain respect and friendship. When his game-jumping efforts go awry, Ralph finds himself in confectionary based racing game, Sugar Rush. Here he strikes up an unlikely friendship with glitching racer misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who is on her own mission to fit in.
John C. Reilly is brilliantly cast as Ralph, underplaying his lines for an adult audience and bringing heaps of warmth to this harmless bad guy. Wreck-It Ralph’s casting success doesn’t stop there, as Sarah Silverman skillfully negotiates the fine line between entertaining and annoying in the part of Vanellope, giving us an adorable and heart-breaking character.
Executive produced by long time Pixar writer and director, John Lasseter, it’s no surprise that this retro-gaming animation captures some of the latter studio’s charm with its in-jokes and subtle, grown-up laughs. That it gives us characters with more than a touch of humanity is one of Wreck-It Ralph’s greatest strengths and the film opens on a support group for gaming bad guys that’s reminiscent of Buzz’s encounter with discarded toys in Toy Story short, Small Fry.
Despite some obvious comparisons to the Toy Story franchise, Wreck-It Ralph feels fiercely original. With a story from Simpsons directors Jim Reardon and Rich Moore (who also directs), Wreck-It Ralph is brimming with sharp wit and laugh out loud gags.
“Disney’s best animation since Princess And The Frog”
The tightly written screenplay from relative newcomers, Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, plays heavily on the evolution of gaming characters over the decades. While retro characters bubble with naivety, newer incarnations in first-person-shooter, Heroes Duty, are well-versed in life’s harsher experiences. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), the shooter’s fierce heroine, is ‘programmed with the most tragic backstory ever’.
Wreck-Ralph’s richly detailed world is brought to life with visual gusto by art director Ian Gooding (The Princess And The Frog). Retro game references are everywhere with cameos by a whole host of characters, from Super Mario’s Bowser to Pac-Man and Paperboy. Eagle-eyed game enthusiasts will find Wreck-It Ralph fueled for plenty of re-watches. From the juddering movement of older game characters, to clever use of time-lapse camera effects and retro game credits, Wreck-It Ralph is bathed in gaming style. As Ralph enters in the sweet world of Sugar Rush, the animation becomes packed with visual confectionary references from Oreos to Beard Papa, and Sugar Rush becomes a plausible arcade game that younger audiences will be desperate to play.
Wreck-It Ralph is in clear contention for a Best Animated Feature Oscar this February and it’s easy to see why. In Wreck-It Ralph, Disney have created an immensely entertaining movie, packed with laughs and appealing characters that, in true Disney style, has a genuine message at its heart. Wreck-It Ralph is an animation that has oodles to offer, even if a cameo by Q*Bert is likely to pass you by.
VERDICT: ✭✭✭✭✭ 5/5
For more information, see the official website