Disney’s new digital animation film “Wreck-It Ralph” reaches to my nostalgia with a handful of video games I played during my childhood and adolescent years. I had little interest on playing video games unlike my schoolmates, but I was drawn to a few lighthearted ones such as Packman or Bubble Bobble, and I enjoyed them a lot as I tried to pass each level with buttons and sticks.
And I might have been interested in playing “Fix-it Felix Jr.”, one of the arcade games in the story of “Wreck-It Ralph”. The setting is pretty simple but this arcade game is as fun as it can be as a 30-year-old game which has occupied the same place at Litwak’s Arcade for a long time. Whenever a new level is started, its villain Ralph breaks everything in his sights as programmed, and it is Felix’s(and the player’s) job to fix everything quickly with his magic hammer for finishing each level and getting a gold medal in the end.
If Ralph(voiced by John C. Reilly) was merely a figure consisting of digital codes, he could not feel boredom at all, but he is a game figure residing in his arcade game with other figures, and he has been tired of his role as a bad guy. The people of his game always praise Felix(voiced by cheerful Jack McBrayer from TV series “30 Rocks”), but they never care about Ralph, and he lives alone in a dump site next to an apartment building where Felix and others live together as a happy community.
It has been a small consolation to Ralph that his world is not limited to his home and workplace. Whenever the arcade is closed at night, the video game characters can freely go around through the interconnecting electronic circuits between their games until the place is opened in the next morning, and they even have the main terminal where we can see several familiar video game characters walking around. As a matter of fact, Ralph recently starts to attend a support group meeting for the video game antagonists, “Bad-Anon”, and you may recognize some of them with some smile and amusement(their motto: One game at a time).
Anyway, Ralph finally decides not to play a bad guy anymore. He becomes determined to get a gold medal for the acceptance he has yearned for, so, when he accidentally encounters a chance to go inside the other games, he seizes it without hesitation, but he has no idea about what games he goes into – or what kind of crisis he causes through his reckless actions.
It is a little disappointing that “Wreck-it Ralph” directly handles only few video games in its story, but it is instead equipped with good-looking animation, likable characters we can care about, and many humorous and smart touches sprinkled throughout its video game worlds. Though this is an digital animated film, the movements of the characters in Ralph’s game amusingly reflect the mannerisms of your average 8-bit video game characters, and I and the audiences were especially amused by how sincerely Sergeant Calhoun(voiced by Jane Lynch with gusto), a brash no-nonsense leader of the latest high-definition arcade game named Hero’s Duty, reacts to her, uh, programmed past. Hero’s Duty is one of those games where you shoot any digital enemy on your sight in the apocalyptic background not so different from Resident Evil, and Calhoun is your lady to depend on whenever the coins are inserted.
The story mainly revolves around another arcade game called Sugar Rush, whose very, very sweet world may make your blood sugar level increased quickly even with a few seconds of glance. Its ruler is King Candy(Alan Tudyk), and many of his people are various kinds of sweet carbohydrate products like candies or doughnuts, and its landscapes include many colorful sights such as candy trees or a caramel swamp.
In such a sweet new world unfolded before him, Ralph gets acquainted with another lonely game character named Vanellope(voiced by Sarah Silverman), who has been ostracized by other game characters of Sugar Rush due to her ‘glitch’. Ralph and Vanellope quickly become a typical mismatched duo as they try to attain their respective goals, and John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman interact with each well as a lovable big guy with soft sides and a tiny plucky girl full of boundless optimism.
How their story is resolved and what they learn through their adventure are pretty conventional to say the least, but the director/co-writer Rich Moore and his crews made an entertaining animated film filled with humor and excitement. There is not anything particularly new during the action-packed climax involving speedy car race during its third act, but it keeps finding something for good laughs even when its pace becomes a little too hurried.
“Wreck-It Ralph” is a sweet enjoyable animation recently nominated for Best Animated Feature film at the Golden Globe awards, and it will probably be Oscar-nominated later in next January considering that there is no particularly strong candidate among the notable animated films of this year. When I came to the screening room in this evening, the place was packed with young audiences as well as older audiences, and it seemed the latter had more fun because of their personal memories. In case of young audiences, well, how could they resist a bright, colorful, and speedy fun? They certainly did not need 3D glasses for appreciating that.
Sidenote: The movie is preceded by an animated short film “Paper Man”, a melancholic but warm comic romance whose surreal moment reminded me of one bizarre moment involving a bunch of papers in “Brazil”(1985).