It’s already been dubbed a Disney ‘classic’ with many critics putting it on a par with Pixar’s Toy Story. But is Wreck it Ralph all it’s cracked up to be? In my opinion, yes and no. With Pixar now part of the Disney empire, and its co-founder John Lasseter now in charge of the Disney animation team, the film is visually stunning, but I felt it flagged a little in the second half. A bit of a case of style over substance.
If I didn’t have young children, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this film and I don’t think that paying extra to watch the movie in 3D was worth it. Wreck It Ralph simply doesn’t have the wow factor that some 3D movies have. The film starts with an innovative idea. The title character features in a made-up 1980’s amusement arcade game called ‘Fix-It Felix, Jr’. Ralph, voiced by John C Reilly, is our ‘hero’, a human version of Donkey Kong, who batters his way through building after building. As a result he is despised by all the characters in the game who ostracise him because he trashes everything. Meanwhile, Felix, is always on hand to fix everything up – and as a result he is adored by all the characters. In his off-hours, when no one’s playing the game – Ralph’s an enormous softie who just wants to be understood.
Fed up of being treated as an outcast by all of the game’s smarmy little characters, including Felix, a saccharine sweet goody-two-shoes who tries ever so hard to be nice, albeit in an ingratiating way, Ralph jumps ship from his own machine to find respect elsewhere. He wants to win a medal so he can be viewed as a hero by the characters in his own game. Ralph arrives in ‘Hero’s Duty’, a violent shooting game led by a fantastic and ballsy female called Sergeant Calhoun and her male comrades. Their job is to get rid of the Cy-Bug aliens that swamp the game.
I won’t say anymore about the story as I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen the film, but so far so good. My children and I were gripped. How annoying then that about half way through the movie, our hero Ralph is despatched to another game called Sugar Rush which for a short time is tolerable – but he’s in this game for pretty much the duration of the film. My 4 and 7 year old sons were transfixed but I soon tired of this dizzying candy-land racing game with its pink sweets and lollipop littered setting. The witty dialogue descends into a frantic and rather silly farce. No matter. The many kids in the auditorium seemed to still be enjoying the antics, and the typical Disney happy ending will keep the majority of audiences satisfied. Is it the best Disney movie ever? Nope. Is it worth seeing? Yes. If you fancy something escapist and lightweight – and you have young children and you want to keep them occupied.
For me, bizarrely, the real highlight of Wreck It Ralph is the wonderful short film, called Paperman, which precedes it. This charming Oscar nominated Disney six minute animated feature is about a young man who tries to attract the attention of a beautiful woman with a fleet of paper aeroplanes. I loved it. And you can watch it for free as Disney has released it on YouTube.