March 10, 2013

New Disc Review: WRECK-IT RALPH (Blu-Ray/DVD)

Starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Mandy Kaling. Directed by Rich Moore. (2012, 101 min).
Disney Blu-Ray

The cool thing about Wreck-It Ralph is it’s a much better film than it needed to be. The premise, about a video game villain who decides he’s no longer happy with his role in life, could just-as-easily have been a quickly slapped-together product without a whiff of imagination and would have raked in just as much cash from undemanding kids and their parents dragged along for the ride.

Instead, Wreck-It Ralph has much higher aspirations, to be the Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Toy Story for the video game crowd. It isn’t as clever, funny or groundbreaking as either of those classics, but it does just-as-lovingly acknowledge the past. Those who grew up in arcades during the 80s will find a lot to love about the film’s small touches that will be totally lost on the children they would likely buy the movie for. That, more than anything, makes this film worth seeing more than once.

The plot itself is standard fare, so it’s those little touches which raises Wreck-It Ralph above the usual kiddie fodder. My favorite so-called throwaway scene involves the use of Oreo cookies as palace guards in the Suger Rush video game. The scene is dumb, and has nothing to do with the story itself, but its inclusion makes it obvious the film’s writers had much loftier ambitions than simply catering to the built-in video game crowd.

Another nice touch is that the primary characters all come from different eras of video game history. Hence, those from older games move and act differently than those from modern ones, making the budding romance between Fix-It Felix & Sergeant Tamora all the more amusing.

In fact, if there’s one major fault with the movie, it’s that the secondary characters are much more interesting than Ralph or Vanellope (voiced by John C. Reilly & Sarah Silverman). This goes for the numerous ‘cameos’ by characters from real video games, like Bowser and one of the ghosts from Pac-Man. These more satiric moments tend to suck the viewer from what little plot the movie has.

Still, while no classic, Wreck-It Ralph is a lovingly-made film that manages to lift itself above most of the CG animated fodder glutting the market. It’s not in the same league as Toy Story, but does lend itself to repeated viewings, which is more than you can say about most family films.

Bonus Features:
Paperman - Disney’s Oscar-winning short, which might be the sweetest seven minutes ever put on film.
Bit-by-Bit: Creating the Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph
Disney Intermission: The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It Ralph
Deleted/Alternate Scenes
Video Game Commercials - Fake ads for the fake games created for the film, and very funny.

FKMG RATING: *** (out of 4)

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