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Dec 16, 2012

Film Review: WRECK-IT RALPH (2012): John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) Film Review, movie directed by Rich Moore and stars John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman, Adam Carolla. Jamie Elman, Rachael Harris, Dennis Haysbert, Mindy Kaling, Edie McClurg, Ed O’Neill, Horatio Sanz, Stefanie Scott, Alan Tudyk, and Skylar Astin.

After enduring a nauseating ad campaign for Wreck-It Ralph, I was certain that this was a movie I would never see. Never had my idea of a night-out consisted of trying to imagine Jack McBrayer as some type of gamer-hero, or even just some slack-jawed basement dweller. But when the late-autumn induced boredom came creeping, my soft spot for animated features (read: cartoons) took the reigns and I decided to give it a shot.

The story begins with straight exposition of Wreck-It Ralph himself griping about his station in life as the sad, neglected bad guy in a world where only good guys get respect. Despite the sob story, this is an idea that works, and viewing it from the perspective of a video game is an effective context. When Ralph decides the only way to earn that respect is to earn a “good guy” gold medal himself, he leaves his own arcade game in search of another where he attain the glory that will impress his peers, and presumably find himself along the way.

On the surface the plot is very straightforward. However, as the story progresses some of the events that transpire are head-scratchingly convoluted. The jury is still out on whether the sheer randomness will be be attractive to children or just confuse them. And some of the more satisfying parts for adults will likely be equally dissatisfying for kids. I have to wonder if the writers were trying for too broad of an appeal, and whether they might have been better off only focusing on a smaller audience.

In addition to a confusing plot, a lot of the humor fell very flat. I do not suspect that younger viewers will get many of the jokes, and for the parents who actually do understand – expect to be disappointed. I am far from being above toilet humor, but a lot of it just felt lazy.

Luckily, the weak structure is supported by a great cast. Affable (and versatile) John C. Reilly continues to break out of his reputation as a character man and is more than adept as the lead Ralph. While Jane Lynch is wonderful too as the tomboyish Calhoun, I have to wonder if she is tired of playing the same role over and over. Personally I find Sarah Silverman annoying regardless, but for the film it was a good fit.

While not the most impressive film I’ve ever seen, I did enjoy it much more than I thought I would. Video game nostalgics will appreciate some of the nods to the arcade culture of yore, which even includes a reference to Root Beer Tapper.

Rating: 6/10