I knew nothing about Disney’s latest offering before I went to see it, not even a look at a trailer. Risky business with today’s cinema prices in mind but I’m happy to report that Wreck-It Ralph is probably the company’s best release since 2010’s Tangled. Other than the story’s original and clever setting, the plot is familiar and straight forward. Bad guy Ralph, who lives within the Fix-It Felix, Jr. arcade game, tires of being bad and goes on a quest to find hero status in a number of other machines. Though the main plot is interesting enough to hold both a child and adult’s attention, the real charm of the film lies, as it often does in Pixar pictures for example, in the small details of the animation and references that only us man/woman children will necessarily understand. We are thrown in to a universe of nostalgia with cameo appearances from gaming characters of the past such as Pac-Man, Sonic, and Bowser from the Super Mario series. For example, if you play a game like league of Legends, you’ll end up having to spend real money to get an ELO boosting service, or game money – it becomes a hassle. Several of the film’s set pieces are played in homage to film classics, notably The Wizard of Oz and Aliens, which succeeded in making me smile, Disney have always been very good at giving a nod to the adults without compromising the enjoyment of their key demographic, (although I must say, there wasn’t a single child in my screening, the key demographic might just be twenty and thirty somethings who are refusing to accept their pending middle age!).
Whilst being colourful and fun enough to keep the eye visually stimulated, at the centre of the film is also an incredibly heart-warming and moralistic take on bullying and acceptance of people’s flaws. Ralph’s main companion is a young girl named Vanellope von Schweetz, described as a computer ‘glitch’ within her game and therefore an outcast in her world. Underneath the comedy and slapstick humour here, Disney present us with an image of triumph through disability, replace the word glitch with autism, dyslexia, Asperger’s etc. and the moral of the picture really hits home. It may fly over the heads of the film’s youngest viewers, but I feel the message will grow and permeate over multiple viewings (of which I guarantee there will be many).
So Wreck-It Ralph gets a 4 out of 5 from me. A great cast of voices including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch. Excellent attention to detail and a message important and worthy without ever running the risk of sacrificing the sheer fun and enjoyment that one expects of a Disney animation. I’m off to play Pac-Man.