'Wreck-It Ralph' not great, but no train wreck

By Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comNovember 2, 2012 

John C. Reilly gives voice to Wreck-It Ralph. He's an arcade character in a game called Fix-It Felix.

Ralph's job is to wreck a building and terrorize its inhabitants. Ralph is opposed by Fit-It Felix, the game's hero. When Ralph loses to Felix -- and he usually does -- the building's denizens unceremoniously dump him off the building.

End of game.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Getting tossed and hated for basically doing his job hurts Ralph's feelings a bit. When the game is not being played, Ralph lives in the city dump. He spends a lot of time sulking. After a hard day at work, Ralph learns that day is the 30th anniversary of his popular game.

His gamemates party. Ralph is left out.

Ralph is tired of being the bad guy. Without an invite, Ralph goes to the party anyway. A confrontation leads him to leave the game and search for a medal that will identify him as a hero. Ralph thinks acceptance from his gamemates will come when he is recognized for doing something good.

So Ralph leaves his game, invades a space invasion/war game and illegally gets a medal. On the way home, a twist of fate sends Ralph to a kiddy candy game. There he meets and then loses his medal to Vanellope. She needs the gold to get into a car race. If she wins, she becomes one of that game's legitimate characters.

While Ralph is gone, kids can't play Fix-It Felix because Ralph isn't around to tear up the building. If the game doesn't work, the arcade owner tags it. And if the game can't be fixed, the characters lose their home.

In the action parts and comic sequences Wreck-It Ralph is terrific.

And it's always easy to love a movie where you want to bundle up one of the characters and take them home with you. In this case, it's the adorable Vanellope, whose big brown eyes and cuter-than-cute voice make her irresistible.

The chemistry between Reilly's Ralph and Vanellope, who is voiced by comedian/actress Sarah Silverman, is exceptional. Also fun is Jane Lynch, who does a commander from the war game.

The rest of the vocal cast is animated character perfection: Alan Tudyk, 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert (TV's The Unit, in the baseball movie series Major League as Pedro Cerrano, but perhaps best known as insurance firm Allstate's TV commercial spokesman) and Edie McClurg.

For older kids and adults -- especially those growing up on the video arcade games popular in the 1980s and 1990s -- Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids) and first-time writer Jennifer Lee develop a script that's a hoot. It's the slow parts between the action sequences and comedy bits that damage Wreck-It Ralph.

Director Rich Moore is also a first-timer. His pacing is sometimes so slow it'll have younger kids squirming and wondering why you can't pause the movie so they can do something else.

That wrecks it a bit for Wreck-It Ralph.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Director: Rich Moore

Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Alan Tudyk, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg

Rated PG for mature themes. It is playing in 3-dimensions or two at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service