Wreck-it Ralph (2012) – Film Review
Director: Rich Moore
Voice Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch
by Dan Berlinka
Wreck-It Ralph is family friendly fun which manages the unusual feat of inspiring nostalgia in children (“OMG – there’s Qbert!”).
Visually, it’s a treat, with unobtrusive 3D and a great eye for detail, while a top-notch cast provides the voices, led by John C. Reilly’s endearing hangdog heavy. But despite the evident love and craft on display, it never quite fulfils the wonderful promise of the premise – not because of a lack of ideas, but rather a surfeit of them.
Although it’s strong enough in its own right to avoid seeming derivative, there are so many thematic possibilities crammed in, that it ends up feeling like a whistle-stop tour of every great animated film of the past 20-years (though by “great animated film” I guess I pretty much mean anything by Pixar).
“Abundance of ingredients spreads the narrative too thin”
There’s the secret life of “toys” (and their rivalries) – Toy Story; the fear of becoming outmoded – Toy Story 2; a “baddie” questioning his role in life (and helping a little girl) – Monsters Inc. Even the ‘Bad-anon’ support group opening has shades of the sharks in Finding Nemo.
None of these echoes are a problem in themselves, but this abundance of ingredients spreads the narrative too thin and skates over some of the most interesting areas, with a script that’s never quite as sharp as it might’ve been. The recurring childish name-calling between Ralph and Sarah Silverman’s Vennelope feels, well… childish.
I also found something slightly uncomfortable in the underlying message of learning to accept your lot at the bottom of the pile, though it’s probably unfair to expect that much in the way of political commentary from a kids’ film. Of course, these misgivings may simply be a consequence of Pixar (and the Toy Story trilogy in particular) setting the bar too high.
While Wreck-it Ralph may not reach such lofty peaks peaks, if you’re looking for a family outing there’s nevertheless enough to enjoy and entertain all ages.