Over the decades, Walt Disney Animation Studios has done a fine job of creating numerous animated feature films that appeal not only to children but also to the child in all of us: THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and TANGLED come to mind. And then, on the other hand, there’s WRECK-IT RALPH, which plays like an afternoon kiddie cartoon that somehow escaped to the big screen. Oh sure, some references to old-fashioned video-games may fly over the heads of younger viewers, but little else will. The story pushes a heartfelt message, but the humorous antics are pitched at a strictly juvenile level that will have parents yawning while their children roar in approval.
In fact, I am so obviously not the film’s target audience that I have pressed back into service Timmy, the imaginary five-year-old nephew who reviewed UNDERDOG back in 2007. Amazingly, five years later, Timmy remains five years old, making him the ideal audience for WRECK-IT RALPH. Take it away, Timmy:
This movie was about this guy named Ralph who didn’t like being a bad guy anymore because the good guy has all the fun and Ralph doesn’t like it that people don’t like him and they don’t invite him to their party and they don’t give him cake. And it made me feel sad for Ralph except Ralph breaks everything when he goes to the party, and he was kind of stupid, so I started to just think he was stupid and I didn’t like him more than the other people who didn’t like him.
Ralph goes to another games where they go in space and kill space alien bug monsters and it was really cool and I wanted the rest of the movie to be there but then Ralph gets a medal and he goes to another game that was like a girlie game called SugarSlush or something like that, and it was kind of boring there and I thought they wouldn’t stay there too long but they did stay too long like almost the rest of the movie and I kept wanting to see the space alien bug monsters again, and we did but not in the other game – they were in the girlie game and that was kind of fun because I hated the girlie game and liked seeing the bugs eat everything but it took too long for this to happen.
Anyway Ralph gets his medal but this girl steals it because she needs it to get in a race to win so she can show the other girls she’s as good as them, and Ralph hates her because she stole his medal but then he sees the other girls bash up her car and Ralph feels sorry for her and stops the other girls, and then I felt sorry for the girl and I kind of liked Ralph too because he was nice to the girl after the other girls were mean to her. It was kind of mushy but kind of good too. But then some other stuff happened and it wasn’t as good anymore.
But then the Fix-It Felix guy comes to take Ralph back to his game because no one is playing the game anymore because there is nothing for Fix-It Felix to fix when Ralph is gone, but before they can go back the bugs come, and there’s this cool lady from the alien space bug game who shoots ray guns at the bugs and Fix-It Felix likes here and it’s kind of mushy but funny too because he’s like little and short and she’s big and strong.
And towards the end the other girl who stole Ralph’s medal gets to race but she doesn’t get to the finish line because the bugs eat the finish line, but Ralph helps her, so he’s like not really a bad guy anymore but he has to act like a bad guy in the game with Fix-It Felix but now Fix-It Felix is nice to him and everybody is happy, and it was okay towards the end with the race and the space alien bugs, but I just wish that part came sooner.
Oh, and I almost forgot, the girlie game was kind of boring but it looked kind of pretty like candy and it made me want to go to the snack bar and buy some candy after the movie was over.
Well, there’s not much to add to that. The plot of WRECK-IT RAPH is essentially a rewrite of TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: a character who tires of his job, tries something new, then returns to doing what he does well at the end. John C. Reilly is great as the voice of Ralph, but the character himself is a bit of a dumb lug; at least he learns his lesson by the end.
Much expertise went into crafting the 3D computer-animation, which is lovely to look at but not particularly engaging. Jumping from game to game allows for some amusing clashes of style, but that carries the film only so far.
There are just enough good moments to make WRECK-IT RALPH a bit more than a waste of time for anyone over ten, but most parents will find the film’s greatest value when it arrives on video, and they can pop it into the player to distract the kids, while Mom and Dad do something else.
WRECK-IT RALPH ( Walt Disney Animation Studios, November 2, 2012). Directed by Rich Moore. Written by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston. Voices: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O’Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg. 108 Minutes. Rated PG