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Disney lights up the screen yet again with the delightful and cute Wreck-It Ralph. The movie overall has a lovely, if a bit clichéd, story line and beautiful animation. Even if you’re not a hardcore gamer, Wreck-It Ralph has a lot to offer.
The story follows Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Riley), the villain of the ‘80s arcade game, Fix-It Felix Jr., where Ralph smashes an apartment building. He’s nine feet tall and has huge hands. He shouts, “I’m gonna wreck it!” And right when the 30th anniversary of his game rolls around, he finds that he’s tired of being the villain. He attends a support group for video game villains where they discuss their frustrations. The other villains tell Ralph he should take life “one game at a time.” Cute.
However, Ralph snaps when he finds that the other members of his game have a party celebrating their 30th anniversary and didn’t invite him. One of the apartment residents challenges Ralph to earn a medal (like the hero of the game, Felix) and then they’ll throw a party in Ralph’s honor.
Ralph then goes on a quest to earn that medal, hopping into the game “Hero’s Duty” where he meets the hardcore soldier Calhoun (Jane Lynch). Ralph doesn’t do too well in “Hero’s Duty” but he does manage to snag a medal. Unfortunately, just as Felix (Jack McBrayer) is about to fetch Ralph, Ralph flies off in an escape pod into the racing game "Sugar Rush" and brings a deadly “cybug” with him. (Cybugs are pests who destroy everything.)
Even worse for Ralph, a little girl, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) steals his medal. Vanellope is also a glitch, meaning she can’t game-hop like Ralph. She wants to race, but the non-glitch characters won’t allow her to. But Ralph’s medal buys her passage into the race and she promises to get Ralph’s medal back. Meanwhile, Calhoun and Felix hop into "Sugar Rush" to find Ralph and destroy the cybugs.
Wreck-It Ralph does a pretty good job as a story. The detail in the animation is stellar, especially in the "Sugar Rush" scenes. (This is where the majority of the action takes place.) Even better, the animation is logical and adds an element of characterization. As an added bonus there are a lot of great video game references and a few dorky pop culture nods. (Diet Coke and Mentos, anyone?)
The characters all are well-done and connect with the audience. Venellope and Calhoun have a surprising amount of character development, too, which is interesting and wonderful. Ralph’s friendship with Venellope is adorable. Calhoun and Felix’s romance is unconventional and sweet.
Where the movie falters is that its structure isn’t as tight as it could be. There are scenes that linger just a bit too long. The villain is unclear until almost the end of the movie, though the plot twist almost makes it worth it. Basically, this means that the story sags toward the middle. There aren’t too many moments that make you laugh hard. You’ll likely be chuckling the entire time, but you won’t have a big belly laugh at all. The other big fault of the movie is that it ends up being cliché toward the end, which sours the experience ever-so-slightly.
Those small flaws aside, the movie is a treat. The celebrity voice acting works and it’s quite funny. Ed O’Neill, Mindy Kaling, Alan Tudyk, Adam Carolla and Horatio Sanz all make appearances. If you like cute movies with great animation this is the movie for you.