Quantcast

Monday, July 28, 2014         

MOVIE REVIEW


 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

'Wreck-It Ralph' a screwball masterpiece

Disney romp brings arcade game characters to life

By McClatchy News Services

POSTED:


Disney Animation takes a page out of Pixar's well-worn playbook for "Wreck-It Ralph," a screwball farce with a novel setting and more edge than your average Disney 'toon.

Where "Toy Story" showed us the off-duty shenanigans of a kid's toy collection and "Monsters, Inc." took us behind the scenes of the bogeyman business, "Ralph" finds fun in the outside-the-arcade-game life of the characters trapped in those games, forced to play hero, pawn or villain forever. Or until the game falls out of favor and the power is shut off.

'WRECK-IT RALPH'

Rated: PG

Opens today

*** 1/2

 

The cartoon-voiced John C. Reilly gives life to Ralph, a beast in a Donkey Kong-like kiddie game titled "Fix-It Felix." Felix, played by Jack McBrayer, the pixie-voiced page of NBC's "30 Rock," repairs this wonderful apartment building for all his friends to live in. The hulking Ralph, 9 feet tall and 643 pounds, lives in the brick pile over by the dump. He wrecks stuff that Felix has to fix.

And this has been going on for decades.

"I'm a bad guy," Ralph mutters. And even though "a steady arcade gig is nothing to sneeze at," he's had enough, he tells his Bad-Anon support group for video-game villains. He's skipping out after hours, finding his way to a game where HE can be the hero, win the "medal" and become beloved.

The video game universe created here is peppered with actual video game characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man and Qbert. The filmmakers have fun with graphics and animation sophistication, from the jerky motion of the "Pac-Man" and "Donkey Kong" era to the HD slickness of today. Gamers will get a kick out of a montage showing the years pass in this one arcade, with forgotten games such as Battlezone replaced by the next big thing.

Ralph has plenty of places to go for glory. Let's start with a first-person shooter game titled "Hero's Duty," where Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch, hilariously over the top) leads her digital commandos into battle against alien "cy-bugs."

"The kitten whiskers and tickle fights stop NOW," she growls. Ralph had no idea games could be so violent.

Then there's a place where "kitten whiskers" would be welcome, the girly Candyland of "Sugar Rush," where adorable tykes, "children of the candycorn," race candy-shaped go-karts across a candyscape. That's where Ralph runs afoul of Vanellope, given a twinkly edge by comic Sarah Silverman. She's a "glitch," a digitally defective character exiled from the game. She's smart alecky and spunky.

Somehow she's going to figure into Ralph's dreams of glory. If only Ralph can avoid being dragged back to "Fix-It Felix" before the game is unplugged.

If only Vanellope can outsmart King Candy (the demented Alan Tudyck, channeling the late Ed Wynn) and find a way to fit in.

The voice casting here is stellar. The cracking, booming Reilly would have been right at home on "The Flintstones" or any Hanna Barbera cartoon of the Golden Age of TV cartoons. Silverman sounds like she's on helium, and Lynch has become the biggest laugh in tough-gal comedy — even when she's just using her voice.

In these films the devil's in the digital details, the little flourishes and sight gags. King Candy has palace guards who'd be equally at home in "Oz" or a glass of milk. ("O-Reee-O—Oreeee—oooo.")

Since taking over all of Disney's animation, Pixar guru John Lasseter has made an imprint on the Mouse's non-Pixar films, and "Ralph" shows many Pixar house touches — a solid story, dazzling detail, inventive settings and jokey characters.

And there's a message bland enough to not offend everyone:"I will not be good and that's not bad. There's no one I would rather be than me."

Attached to "Wreck-It Ralph" is "Paper Man," a delightful black, white and red (lips) 2-D romantic short animated in a more traditional style that is so good it makes you hope Disney doesn't give up on films that aren't about toys, monsters, video games or princesses.

—Review by Roger Moore






 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(0)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
IN OTHER NEWS
Latest News/Updates
Blogs
Political Radar
`My side’

Political Radar
‘He reminds me of me’

Bionic Reporter
Needing a new knee

Warrior Beat
Monday musings

Small Talk
Burning money

Political Radar
On policy

Warrior Beat
Apple fallout