Wreck-It Ralph does for video games what Toy Story did for toys, depicting the life of what arcade game characters do when no one is playing. Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a character modeled on Donkey Kong, except he’s a big human rather than a big gorilla, who smashes things up until the hero, Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer), comes to save the day. Feeling slighted that he’s not invited to Felix’s party for the 30th anniversary of the game, Ralph leaves the game to seek a medal that shows he can be a hero too.
Ralph ends up in a hyper-violent first-person shooter game called Hero’s Duty, where he’s able to get a medal, but also picks up a dangerous Cy-Bug. Entering an escape pod, Ralph and the Cy-Bug are launched into another game, Sugar Rush, a go-kart race game set in a land of candy. There Ralph meets Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a character who is an outsider in Sugar Rush due to glitches that make her teleport. At first adversarial, Ralph and Vanellope team up and become friends, working together so that they can each find acceptance in their games. Reilly and Silverman (and the animators) deserve a lot of credit for making the scenes between the two so heart-wrenching.
While not a particularly original story, Wreck-It Ralph has strong characters, brilliant visuals, and a lot of heart. There are also a lot of gags and cameos that should be a treat for long-time gamers. There’s also some nice touches in giving the characters from older games some 8-bit flourishes even in the CGI animation. There’s also a scene of body horror featuring King Candy (Alan Tudyk, channelling Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter) that challenges Judge Doom falling into the vat of dip in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for Disney-induced nightmare fodder, so be warned. Overall, Wreck-It Ralph is another quality family film from Disney.