Review: “Wreck-It Ralph” is worth rolls of quarters

November 2nd, 2012 at 12:01 am by under Entertainment

Remember “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start”?

How about Sonic the Hedgehog, Q*Bert, and Pac-Man?

These “retro” references to video games from the 1980s and 90s are just the beginning of what makes this latest Disney movie such a treat for adults and kids – both boys and girls!  (Although some images may be scary for kids under 5)

“Wreck-It Ralph” poster courtesy Disney

(My spoiler-free review)

Before almost every home in America had a video game console, we had to go to arcades, pizza restaurants, or 7-Eleven to play video games.  But even after many families had an Atari, a Commodore 64, an Intellivision, a Sega, a Colecovision, or Nintendo… my friends and I would go through a ton of coins at the “Wunderland” or “Tilt” arcades.

Don’t worry… you don’t have to be a gamer to love this movie… but those who are will have a deeper appreciation for both the attention to detail and the collabrative effort to get characters from different platforms and generations into one movie.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is a heartfelt story layered in fun and adventure… the kind that both boys and girls and adults can enjoy.   This is like “Toy Story” (1995) or “Monsters, Inc.” (2001) set in the arcade.    When the arcade closes down for the night, we get to see what happens with the characters and the worlds while the kids are away.   The characters have depth and are likable early on.  The story is fun and engaging, there are clever jokes for kids and the young-at-heart, the voice cast is perfect, and the animation looks really good.

This looks and feels like Pixar, but its a Disney Animation movie… while “Brave” (released earlier this year) was from Pixar but felt more like a traditional Disney movie.

Did I mention the video game references?  I won’t bore you with all of them here (see below), but the point is that it gives the movie legitimacy.   Much like the Looney Tunes and Disney characters that populated “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988)… the cross platform and cross-the-decades characters that fill the world of “Wreck-It Ralph” help the story feel more authentic.  The details are almost mind boggling – from the look and dimensions of characters we know to the sounds, movements, and visuals we’ve come to know from the 8-bit video games of the early 1980s to the High Definition video games of today.  The settings are lush and detailed and the rules laid out for this “world” are not terribly difficult to understand.

Our title character Ralph may be a bad guy, but its hard not to root for him and his friends – a glitch, a Sergeant, and a guy who likes to fix everything.  Through terrific storytelling and animation we get depth with these characters – which starts from the first scenes at Ralph’s support group “Bad-Anon” for villians.  Its as if we played these games before and grew up with the likes of Ralph, Vanellope, Calhoun, and Felix.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is also Perfect for 3D… if you can handle it, its very much worth the extra coinage!


“Wreck-It Ralph” is destined to become a classic with sequels on the way… I give it 9.5 out of 10 … I’m predicting that it wins this year’s Oscar for best animated movie… but even if it doesn’t its certainly worth more than a $10 roll of quarters!

Video from my review of “Wreck It Ralph” on EightWest:

“Wreck-It Ralph” villians support group photo courtesy Disney

VIDEO GAME REFERENCES (non-spoilerswhich ones did I miss?)

*The aforementioned “Up, Up, Down, Down” code – known as the “Konami Code”
*Pac-Man and Pokey from “Pac-Man” (1980) by Namco
*”Frogger” (1981) by Konami
*”Asteroids” (1982) by Atari
*”Dig Dug” (1982) by Namco
*”Burger Time” (1982) by Atari
*Q*Bert and Coily from “Q*Bert” (1982) by Atari
*Luigi from “Mario Bros.” (1983) by Nintendo
*”Tapper” (1983) by Midway
*Bowser from “Super Mario Bros.” (1985) by Nintendo
*”Road Blasters” (1987) by Atari
*Neff from “Altered Beast” (1988) by Sega
*Sonic and Dr. Eggman from “Sonic the Hedgehog” (1991) by Sega
*”Doom” (1993) by id Software
*Zangief, M. Bison, Ryu, and Ken from “Street Fighter” (1995) by Capcom
*Cyril the Zombie from “The House of the Dead” (1998) by Sega
*the fictional game “Fix-It Felix Jr” is like “Rampage” (1986) by Midway
*the fictional game  “Sugar Rush” is like a “Super Mario Kart” (1992-Nintendo)- with power ups, special features, and customization
*the fictional game “Hero’s Duty” is like “Halo” (2001) Microsoft Studios or “Call of Duy” (2003) Activision /any first-person shooter games
*Ralph calls Pac-Man a “cherry chasing dot muncher”

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

Vanellope and Ralph in “Wreck-It Ralph” photo courtesy Disney

“Wreck-It Ralph”

(2012) (rated: PG for some rude humor and mild action/violence)
(1 hr, 48 min)

Starring voices of: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman, Alan Tudyk, Adam Carolla, Dennis Haysbert, Mindy Kaling, Edie McClurg, Ed O’Neill, Horatio Sanz

Director: Rich Moore  [Drawn Together (TV 2005-06), Futurama (TV 1999-2003), The Critic (TV 1994-1995), The Simpsons (TV 1990-1993) ]

Writers: Jennifer Lee, Phil Johnston

Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family

The Plot: A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

“Wreck-It-Ralph” poster and photos courtesy Disney

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