As anyone with kids surely knows, finding the right family movie can be tough. It has to be able to delight younger children, entertain older children and have enough in-jokes that Mom and Dad aren’t bored out of their minds. “Wreck-It Ralph” attempts to strike a good balance of material that family members of all ages can appreciate and is mostly successful.
The film follows the familiar (but enjoyable) plots of films like “Toy Story” and “Monsters Inc“; video game characters are sentient beings living in their own universe when they’re “off the clock.” Ralph, the brutish villain in the fictional game Fix-It Felix, Jr, is sick of always having to be the bad guy. Jumping from arcade game to arcade game, Ralph goes on a quest to finally be a video game hero.
“Wreck-It Ralph” boasts some recognizable voice talent. John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Mindy Kaling, Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman are all superb, and it’s fun for adults to match their voices to their television characters (Kaling and McBrayer are basically animated versions of their “The Office” and “30 Rock” personas.)
Adults will also appreciate the many nods to old-school video games. It’s difficult to resist getting a little nostalgic watching Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac Man and Dr. Robotnik on screen. However, the film’s familiar video game characters feel a little underused as they mostly serve to help drive Ralph’s exposition. I’d love for the film to have spent more time with them.
While adults and older children will certainly enjoy “Wreck-It Ralph,” the plot might be a little complex for those younger than 8 or 9. While they will be delighted by the jokes and visuals, younger children will have no context for a lot of the film’s meticulous video-game inspired universe and story-lines. You might want to come prepared to answer questions from perplexed little ones about arcades and video games.
The Verdict: Overall, it’s a solid movie for children that video-game literate adults will appreciate as well.
Opened: November 2, 2012
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: The voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Lynch