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Disney stands strong, even without Pixar, in ‘Wreck-it Ralph’

By Gordy Stillman

Section: Arts

November 30, 2012

Thanks to a great voice cast, amazing animation and numerous cameos and references for older audiences to enjoy, Wreck-it Ralph is an entertaining reminder that Disney does not need Pixar to make a great movie. What really makes it a worthwhile movie, however, is the complexity of the story.

The story opens with Ralph, the villain of an old arcade game called “Fix-it Felix Jr.” One night, after going to a support group called “Bad-Anon,” inspired by substance support groups, Ralph learns that he wasn’t invited to the 30th anniversary party that the rest of his game cohorts are hosting. After a scuffle with the residents of the game, Ralph, who only wants to be accepted, goes off to try and prove himself as a hero. Ralph travels through various games, including a first-person shooter and a candy-themed kart-racer game, among others, setting the stage for adventure.

The strength of the characters comes not only from their development during the course of the film, but also from their voice actors. Ralph’s character is voiced by John C. Reilly. Reilly excels in conveying Ralph’s array of emotions during the course of the film. The ease of seeing Ralph, a lifelong “bad guy” as a sympathetic character is largely due to the personality that Reilly brings to the character.

Fix-it Felix, voiced by Jack McBrayer, is appropriately befuddled when he ventures outside of his game in search of Ralph. McBrayer provides a convincing portrayal of Felix as the naïve, well-meaning character that he his. Sarah Silverman voices Vanellope Von Schweetz, the good-hearted, often-bullied and apparently glitch-character from “Sugar Rush,”a kart-racing game. Somewhat surprisingly, Silverman’s character was not as annoying as she had appeared in the trailers. Other voices include that of Jane Lynch and Alan Tudyk who both stand out for their portrayals. Lynch gives a surprising intensity to her character, Sergeant Calhoun, the lead in a first-person shooter. Tudyk’s character, King Candy, is one of the more complex in the film, and his portrayal is spot on. King Candy serves as the generally benevolent ruler of Sugar Rush.

Visually vibrant does not describe the film’s aesthetics well enough. Each game bears its own distinct style. For example, Ralph’s world, from the outside, appears to be a classic 8-bit game, and from the inside, becomes more detailed without losing it’s old-time feel. Additionally, settings such as the space inside a power cord and powerstrip are seen as subway tunnels and subway station.

What uplifts the movie and makes it hilarious, even for college students and the many adults that will inevitably sit through the movie while accompanying children, are the many references that older viewers will understand and enjoy. Anyone that grew up with even a minimal exposure to video games should recognize Bowser from the Super Mario series as well as Sonic and Doctor Robotnik, aka Dr. Eggman from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Less obvious characters include Q*bert from Pac-Man with the four ghosts and Ryu from Street Fighter.

Last but not least, Disney included an amazing short film before the main presentation. It’s an incredibly entertaining black and white short film, with only music and sound effects. Given its short length, not much can be said without giving the whole plot away, but it alone makes Wreck-it Ralph worthwhile even for someone who generally isn’t interested in video games or seeing a family-friendly movie.

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