The disgruntled blue-collar working man is somewhat under-represented in the pantheon of children’s animation heroes. In telling the story of Wreck-It Ralph, the discontented bad guy of videogame Fix-It Felix, animation veteran Rich Moore (Futurama, The Simpsons) has given his film an intriguing and unusual hook.
Ralph’s (Reilly) 9-5 is wrecking an apartment building and waiting for Fix-It Felix (McBrayer) to come and save the day. At night, he returns to his home on the rubbish tip and watches the rest of the game’s characters celebrate Felix’s heroism in his penthouse. But Ralph has had enough of being the bad guy and sets out to show everyone that he’s just as important and valuable as Felix.
The first half of Wreck-It Ralph is witty, fresh and eye-catching. Moore isn’t afraid to show Ralph’s rough edges and there are no desperate or crass attempts to keep the younger audience interested while the world of the film is established, with excellent scenes like the Bad Guys Anon meeting showing an admirable commitment to character.
Moore knows that Ralph’s struggle for greater acceptance is one that many kids will be able to relate to. That being said, any kids struggling to concentrate are handsomely rewarded with eye-popping sequences like the battle in Hero’s Duty, an epilepsy-inducing game pitching soldiers against alien bugs. The film is a tribute to beloved arcade games of various eras (it’s packed with references for gamers) and they are each rendered with highly impressive and distinct animation styles.
The sharp script becomes a little blunted at the halfway point when Ralph enters candyland racing game Sugar Rush. It’s here that he meets Vanelope (Silverman), a plucky little outcast who’s also set on being accepted by her fellow characters. The relationship between the two is well-written and Reilly and Silverman’s perfect casting helps no end, but we’re on familiar and slightly saccharine ground by this point.
While the slight slump is disappointing, Wreck-It Ralph is highly enjoyable, occasionally moving, and it’s got a lot of heart.