This is definitely a film for the young and the young at heart. If your spouse is a gamer of a certain age, be aware, it will be him (or her) who whoops excitedly, and loudly, over his popcorn, ‘Wow! Pac man! And Q*bert! Cool! And Blinkity, Pinky and Inky. Look!’ Yes, it was as gibberish to me, too (which is what Q*bert talks, so I’m told, gibberish of the synthesised variety. Little word symbols from his game which pop up in word balloons). In short, aesthetically outstanding and with the incorporation of video games old enough to be fashionably retro, this film will have boys-who-still-like-their-toys in Cinema heaven.
Whooping aside, however, lack of gaming skills, doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of technically less savvy mortals. Wreck it Ralph (directed by Rich Moore – think Futurama and The Simpsons – and written by Jennifer Lee) is a great choice if you are looking for a family film to please everyone.
Set in an ‘after hours’ video game arcade, Wreck it Ralph tells the story of giant, loveable, clumsy, Ralph, who’s the bad guy in a thirty year old video game, whose role it is to demolish the building, thus thwarting cheerful hero, Felix’s, attempts to ‘fix it’. He fails of course, and is constantly cast out as the villain. Game over, he’s still the villain, and finds himself still a cast-out, sleeping alone on the rubble of his destruction. Ralph is not a happy bunny. He’s lonely. He wants to be loved, but nobody loves a bad guy. He wants to be accepted and hailed as the hero, as Felix is. We feel his pain when Ralph isn’t even invited the thirtieth year anniversary celebrations of his game! He’ll never be accepted, he’s told. Only heroes get to live in penthouses. And heroes have medals.
The scene is set. Ralph is now on a mission, to rise to the challenge and get himself a medal. But how? Enter random soldier in a modern first-person shooter game (Hero’s Duty) – his task: shooting Cy-bugs. Sad soldier, however, is terrified of bugs. This is Ralph’s ticket to sneak in and get himself that happiness-guaranteeing medal. Medal secured, Ralph being Ralph, is very soon wrecking everything in sight, inadvertently unleashing a bug, the Cybug, which can infiltrate and destroy every game in the arcade. Stumbling into an escape pod (Cy-bug attached to his face, medal firmly in his grasp) Ralph plus Cy-bug crash-land in ‘Sugar Rush’ a candy-coated cart racing game.
Hanging on a tree branch, Ralph’s medal is just out of reach. He has to retrieve it, which is where he encounters Vanellope von Schweetz…
…a ‘sweet’ little girl who has been banned from racing because she ‘gltiches’ and the ensuing unlikely but heart-warming friendship is the film’s emotional core. Smarter and more agile than heavy-handed Ralph, Vanellope reaches the medal first, stealing it as her entry fee to a race.
Later an enraged Ralph rescues her from bullies, who are picking on her because she’s different, and won over by her feisty determination and acerbic ‘charm’, Ralph decides he has to help her win her dream to become a racer, the spinoff being the retrieval of his hard-won medal. Almost at the race start line, he backtracks when persuaded by King Candy (who has an agenda of his own) that Vanellope winning will cause mayhem in Sugar Rush land. Will Ralph realise his dream of becoming a good guy: help Vanellope to win the race alongside helping Hero’s Duty bad-ass Sergeant Calhoun (programmed with “the most tragic back-story ever) and Fix-it Felix, to stop the evil Cy-bugs? Will he realise he is ‘good enough’ to be a hero before it’s too late?
This is a fun, family film with just enough message around bullying, being different and self-image. I loved it.
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer
Directed by: Rich Moore
Produced by: Clark Spencer
Written by: Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston