‘My name’s Ralph, and I’m a bad guy…’
I don’t like the idea of ‘children’s film’ as a genre. If your movie only appeals to little people who are perfectly fine with bright lights and loud noises for two hours then you have failed in your remit as a filmmaker. Pixar, my beloved Pixar, has shown that animated movies can be so much more. Disney Animation however, have mostly been slow to react, turning out turgid, forgettable fare such as Tangled and Frozen. Occasionally though, Disney has strayed into the same upper echelon as Pixar, and never more so than Wreck It Ralph.
Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a video game villain who dreams of so much more than just destroying buildings. On his quest to be a hero, he encounters royalty, a lonely little girl and alien parasites.
If Ready Player One taught us anything, it was that a film cannot get by on references to popular culture alone. When utilised properly however, nostalgia can be as joy inducing as when you think you have eaten all the Twixs, but then there is another rogue Twix in the back of the cupboard. And so, when we encounter Ralph sat in an alcoholics anonymous style meeting with Dr. Robotnik, Bowser and one of the ghosts from Pac-Man, I knew I was in for a special time. Crucially though, Wreck It Ralph is so much more than a love letter to old video games. It is that, but it is also visually exhilarating, emotionally draining and a whole lot of fun. This is as close as any movie has got to capturing the essence of gaming. Unadulterated bloody fun.
I kinda slammed Disney earlier, and I will admit that I don’t really care for where they have taken the Star Wars franchise, but if you were to slot Wreck It Ralph into the Pixar roster, it would feature pretty high on that list. Coming from a huge Pixar fanboy, this is high praise indeed. Rich Moore’s innovative minor masterpiece made me laugh, it made me pretend that I wasn’t crying and it brought memories rushing back of endless summers glued to Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat. Heady days indeed.