Andy Bockelman: “Wreck-It Ralph” an awesome arcade homage
Andy Bockelman's movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.
If you go
Film: “Wreck-It Ralph”
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Run time: 108 minutes
Starring the voices of: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch.
Playing now at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and the West Theatre in Craig.
Steamboat Springs In the video game world, a hero is only as noteworthy as the evil forces he faces. Every Pac-Man needs a cluster of ghosts to chase. Sonic the Hedgehog wouldn’t be the same without his Dr. Eggman.
And a humble handyman would have no purpose if not for Wreck-It Ralph.
Punch in every morning, get angry, demolish half a building, get thrown off said building, land in a mud puddle. Repeat.
Every day of the past 30 years has been the same for video game character Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly), the giant villain of arcade favorite Fix-It Felix Jr.
Desperate to prove he can do more than just destroy things, Ralph ventures out into the neighboring games, where a guy like him can get a fresh start even though he’s nowhere near prepared for the fast-paced world of the first-person shooter “Hero’s Duty.” When he winds up in the racer “Sugar Rush,” he’s forced to strike a deal with Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a pint-sized kid who, like him, only wants the chance to show her fellow characters what she can do.
Meanwhile, Ralph’s absence is causing problems in his own game, and if he doesn’t return soon, it could mean Game Over for Fix-It Felix Jr. and possibly every other game in the arcade.
Reilly may not be 9 feet tall, weigh 600 pounds or model pile-driver fists, but put a pair of frayed red overalls on him and tousle his hair and he’s a pretty good likeness for Ralph in more ways than one.
Just as the reluctant wrecker needs to be recognized for having more than one side to his personality, it’s a testament to the actor’s talents that he can jump out of his usual string of adults-only movies into a family show.
Notorious potty mouth Silverman shows she can be sweet, if still obnoxious, as the embodiment of everyone’s pesky little sister, complete with candy-strewn hair and an endless supply of childish insults.
But she’s had a hard life herself as a character who’s considered a glitch in the system — though she claims she only has “pixlexia” — and made to live in the shadows of the other drivers of “Sugar Rush,” a hyperactive hybrid of “Strawberry Shortcake” and “Mario Kart.”
Speaking of Nintendo’s famous plumber, take off the mustache, stick a golden hammer in his hand, give him the dulcet tones of Kenneth Parcell and you’ve got Fix-It Felix Jr.
McBrayer is the perfect choice to play the repairman who’s so friendly he doesn’t even object to being shot at by a barrage of plasma guns, instead developing a huge crush on the commanding officer of “Hero’s Duty,” Sgt. Calhoun, a hard-nosed bombshell voiced with no-nonsense swagger by Jane Lynch.
Whether your preference is for a plastic firearm, a joystick and buttons or a car constructed from cookies, this is the ideal film for anyone who’s ever loved video games.
Countless cameos abound ranging throughout the decades of gaming history, from the paddles of “Pong,” to Zangief of “Street Fighter II,” to the avatar of “Dance Dance Revolution.”
Overall, Ralph’s story hardly pushes past the constraints of your standard Disney tale — a dreamer dissatisfied with his lot in life and opening his eyes to the possibility of a bigger world — but it’s done with immeasurable cleverness, energetic presentation and, most important, heart.
And not just the kind that shows how many extra lives are still available.
For a man who can tear down an apartment complex with his bare hands, the eponymous character of “Wreck-It Ralph” is hard not to like. Even if you’ve never heard of Sega, Atari or Capcom and have yet to hold a game controller, you have to love a bad guy who only wants to turn good, even if he has to do it the hard way.
And remember boys and girls: only losers rely on cheat codes.
Andy Bockelman is a Craig resident, freelance writer and Denver Film Critics Society accredited film fanatic who occasionally reviews movies playing in the Yampa Valley.