Anyone who’s gone near a video game from the ‘80s, ‘90s or early 2000s will probably find something to smile about in “Wreck-it Ralph.”
Ditto for anyone who’s spent extended play-time at a Chuck E. Cheese or similar kiddie-themed eatery with wall-to-wall video games; characters from “Mario Brothers,” “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Qbert,” “Street Fighter,” “Joust,” “The House of the Dead,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Pac-man” all make cameos.
A smile, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into big laughs nor into a great movie-going experience, and both are true of “Ralph.”
“Ralph” is the video-game set’s answer to Pixar’s wildly popular “Toy Story.” It tells the story of Ralph (John C. Reilly), the villain of an old-school arcade game that’s markedly similar to “Donkey Kong” — “Fix-it Felix, Jr.”
After 30 years of villainy, though, Ralph is disillusioned misfit who’s tired of being the “bad guy.” When a video-game-villain support group fails to resolve his discontent, Ralph abandons his game and setts off to earn a medal from another game.
That medal, Ralph believes, will earn him the respect and love of his fellow “Felix” characters.
After the arcade closes, Ralph (and all the other characters in this film), can jump from arcade game to arcade game; he need only return in time for the arcade’s opening the next day. Otherwise, in the parlance of “Ralph’s” writers, he will have gone “turbo.” If that happens, “Fix-it Felix, Jr.” will likely be turned off.
Thus begins Ralph’s quest — a quest that takes him from a “Call of Duty”-like game with giant, robotic spiders called “Hero’s Duty,” to a racing game called “Sugar Rush” that’s similar to Nintendo’s “Mario Kart.”
“Sugar Rush” is where Ralph meets Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), another misfit character who isn’t accepted by the other characters in her game. She and Ralph get off to a bumpy start but soon find quite a bit in common; friendship ensues — as does villainy, betrayal, several twists and turns, and a standard-type life lesson about accepting people for who they are, despite their quirks and differences. Happy endings, of course, abound.
“Wreck-it Ralph” isn’t likely to win any awards for its script or storyline; in the age of digital animation, this is fairly run-of-the-mill, standard kiddie entertainment. That’s really “Ralph’s” biggest problem, though: It isn’t terrible, but neither is it great; it’s average.
It’s certainly not up to Pixar standards, and I can’t help wondering if that’s why Disney stamped it’s own name on this project. In fact, at times “Ralph” plays like a “Toy Story” rehash or wannabe.
That’s not to say it isn’t worth taking kids to see. Adults should be forewarned, however, that they’re likely to wish they’d seen something else if the kids don’t come along.
Runtime: 101 minutes
Rated PG for cartoonish violence — Suitable for the pups
Rating System Explained: Rabies = 0; Yip = *; Bark = **; Howl = ***; Lone-wolf howl = ****; Leader of the pack = *****
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.