For thirty years, Ralph has been the adversary in the classic hit video-game Fix It Felix. Lonely and in search of a friend, Ralph is told by his fellow game inhabitants and several other classic video game villains that he’ll never be more than the bad guy. Determined to me more than his programming, Ralph leaves the game in search of a gold medal that he believes will win him the friendship and respect of his fellow game inhabitants.
By going “turbo” (invading other games in the arcade), Ralph achieves his goal of getting a medal in one game, only to lose it in the brightly colored racing game, Sugar Rush to “glitch” Venellope. Ralph and Venellope hatch a plan to help her win the race and get his medal back.
With Wreck It Ralph, Disney is attempting to do for video games what Toy Story did for toys. And, for the most part, it succeeds though the film probably won’t be as well-regarded by adults as the Toy Story trilogy is.
The film is packed full of homages and Easter eggs to classic and current video games. If you’ve ever dropped a quarter into an arcade slot, you’ll have a lot of fun picking out various familiar faces. But part of that fun is ruined by the 3-D process and how it focuses your attention on one area of the screen–a lot of the homages are in the background and there were times I was straining to see figure out the Easter eggs within the film and others when I felt like I was missing some of them. If possible, try the film in 2-D just so you can enjoy all the shout outs to various video games.
And while Ralph has a solid story about not being defined by the world, the story lacks the heart that made Toy Story and other Pixar films so much fun–and so re-watchable. Ralph is fun to see once or twice but I don’t envy those parents who be forced to see it multiple times on DVD with younger children.
However, for a family afternoon out at the movies, Ralph is a lot of fun. I’m sure the younger set will eat it up (they certainly seemed to at the preview screening I attended) and there’s enough humor and homages to keep adults interested.
Make sure you get there early though–Disney has included a wonderful short called Paperman with the film. This six-minute short about a guy and girl meeting through paper airplanes is a visual delight and shows just the type of great story you can tell without anyone in the short saying a word. In many ways, I was more charmed by Paperman than I was by Ralph.