This is just a clever story. Sadly, there are few arcades any more. There used to be. In my teenage years, THAT is where you went to “hang out”. What “Ralph” has is a little nostalgia for the arcade gamers of the ‘80s and some great references to the early console games of the both the ‘80s and the ‘90s. As a concept base for the plotline, this is a pretty great foundation. It reminds me of “Toy Story” because it is a concept that has a LOT of potential! True to Disney form, they keep it simple and focus on the moral of the story. That moral dilemma is: can a bad guy actually be a good guy?
While the writing of “Ralph” is simplistic, what it focuses on and plays upon is this moral question. In keeping it simple, the theme became much more effective. It also allowed the writers to have a lot of fun in general when writing the characters. It shows on every level. The basic plotline is bad guy attempts to prove that he can be a good guy by acquiring a medal. To this end, Ralph (the bad guy in question) decides to leave his own arcade game and travel to another video game to win such a prize.
The villains of multiple video games gather together and have a group therapy session to discuss their issues with being “bad”. Video game characters gather at the local pub – another video game called Tapper’s – after hours to throw a few back. Out-of-work game characters like Q-bert beg for food in the terminal that is the nexus between all the video game worlds. They even reference a video game character that went rogue known as “Turbo” – whose name is now synonymous with game-jumping and how awful it can be. Truth is, if a game is perceived as “glitch”, that game is retired forever. So, nobody wants any of that because Turbo apparently did so and ruined not only his own game world but also the game he jumped into.
Set into this background is poor Ralph who is a little tired of not having any friends and is always despised by the people of his video game’s world. When he returns home from his villain support group to find the people of his world celebrating the 30th anniversary of their game and throwing a lavish party to honor Felix, their game’s hero, Ralph loses it. He decides he is leaving his video game to win a medal and prove to the people of his video game that he is more than just the bad guy. Of course, Ralph leaves and now the game is deemed “glitchy”. If Ralph does not return in 24 hours, the game will be unplugged! Now, Fix-It Felix has must actually play hero outside of his game in order to save the game before it is turned off (Oh NO!) and marked as OUT OF ORDER permanently!
The voice of John C. Reilly is perfectly matched to Ralph, as is Sarah Silverman as Vanellope von Schweetz. The animation is great and the lingo of video games is everywhere in the film. So, if you are a gamer of the ‘80s or ‘90s, you will really enjoy this movie. Still, “Wreck-It Ralph” has a lot for the kids and is truly a Disney movie: plenty of funny and plenty of fun. It may not measure up to the quality of “Brave” and its story is little less mature than “Brave” as well. If you have younger ones, this may be the better movie for your kids. Over all though, “Ralph” is thoroughly enjoyable and worth seeing for something refreshing that I guarantee you have not seen before.
…that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.
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