Wreck-It Ralph REVIEW

Wreck-It Ralph film review: Disney levels up

“Has anyone lost their cherry?”

Release Date: 8 February 2013
PG | 108 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk

With Pixar co-founder John Lasseter in charge of the animation team at Disney, and his company’s “brain trust” of their creative leaders available to offer guidance, it was only a matter of time before a Disney film arrived that feels like a Pixar movie. Wreck-It Ralph is the result, and all the better for it.

Much as with Toy Story’s peek at the secret life of playthings, Ralph’s look at videogame characters in their off-hours (specifically the frustration of John C Reilly’s title character, and his desire to be something more than the mindless, bitter villain his programming dictates) provides for a wealth of opportunities.

Finally cracking a project that the Disney bods had been trying to figure out for years, Futurama/Simpsons veteran Rich Moore and writers Phil Johnston, Jim Reardon and Jennifer Lee have brought to life a funny, sweet, action-packed and clever little bundle that manages to inject the Mouse House’s trademark believe-in-yourself story with both anarchy and subversive treats. While the standard character stuff occasionally grates, the movie is too much infectious fun for that to ever become a big problem.

Reilly is great as Ralph, all subdued bluster and knuckleheaded charm. Sarah Silverman makes Vanellope von Schweetz, the “glitch” he meets when journeying to candy-coated racing game Sugar Rush, a snarky, mischievous delight. And there’s able support from a platoon of others (particularly Firefly’s Alan Tudyk as the mad King Candy).

But it’s Moore’s background and personal tastes that really shine through. Ralph is loaded with carefully observed details, jokes and references, to a Springfieldian level, which means that kids will enjoy the gags and characters and anyone who has so much as walked into an arcade or picked up a joypad will feel a flush of nostalgia at the various videogame icons who turn up. When was the last time you saw Bowser and Dr Robotnik at a support group? The film also moves at a solid clip, diving between game worlds via a smart visual conceit (a multi-plug adaptor that serves as a train station).

Warm, witty, wacky and wonderful, Wreck-It Ralph deserves to stand alongside the best of Disney, while also feeling like it wouldn’t be out of place at Pixar’s table.

James White twitter.com/jamwhite

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