Disney is known for their heart-wrenching movies about friendship and self-discovery, and their newest release “Wreck-It Ralph” is no exception. However, its original angle and likeable characters make the movie an entertaining one – even if audience members get the suspicion that they’ve already seen this film several times before.
In this newest world created by Disney, video game characters travel through each other’s games and interact with each other during the after-hours of the video arcade where their machines reside. The movie opens with the protagonist Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) in a support group for video game villains.
It is at this meeting that Ralph admits that he is tired of being the bad guy. The other villains are shocked and horrified, trying to convince Ralph to embrace his villain status as part of his programming.
After being shunned by his fellow video game characters for his clumsiness, temper and knack for destruction, Ralph becomes even more determined to change his status from villain to hero. He attempts to accomplish this goal by getting a medal from a different game, known as “Hero’s Duty.”
Things do not go very well for Ralph in this new game. The game is much more violent than he expected, and although he manages to overcome his fear to obtain a medal, his victory is short-lived. Ralph unwittingly activates a Cy-bug, a bug-like virus whose only programmed jobs are to multiply and destroy everything in their game.
In his haste to escape, Ralph ends up crashing into a different game called “Sugar Rush,” a candy-themed go kart racing game ruled by a manipulative king. While in this world, Ralph meets the sassy Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) and agrees to help her win a go-kart race in exchange for her help in finding his missing medal.
Naturally, Ralph and Vanellope become unlikely friends until the king manipulates Ralph into rescinding his offer to help Vanellope. But as all Disney movies teach us, the power of friendship cannot be beaten, and — spoiler alert — Ralph uses his wrecking abilities and Vanellope utilizes her driving skills to save the day when things take a turn for the worse, delivering an ending as sweet as candy. (At least, the protagonists get the happy ending. The antagonists don’t fare quite as well, also in typical Disney fashion.)
The movie’s formula may be tired, but the fresh and fun characters make the experience feel new. Audience members immediately sympathize with Ralph and Vanellope, who are constantly labeled as outcasts and screw-ups. Their desire to be more than what their computer programming dictates is one that many people can identify with. There is also a cute, if predictable, subplot involving another unlikely pair: Fix-It Felix, Ralph’s short and nerdy counterpart, and Sergeant Calhoun, the no-nonsense and curvaceous soldier.
The cinematography was also beautiful and engaging. Created through CGI, each world had a distinct theme and feel that carried over to the characters. From their physical appearance to their way of moving, each world had its own distinct style that enhanced the feeling of game-jumping within the world of this movie.
There is one notable aspect where “Wreck-It Ralph” differs from most other Disney movies: music. There is nary a dance number or show tune in the entire movie, most likely to draw in the male crowd that stayed away from Disney’s other recent releases like “Tangled” and “The Princess and the Frog.”
Overall, “Wreck-It Ralph” is an enjoyable investment of an hour and a half. Is it entirely original? No, but that does not detract from its fun. However, if movie prices are too steep for your budget, pop in any other Disney movie for the time being and wait to rent this one later.