Disney Animation takes a page out of Pixar's well-worn playbook for Wreck-It Ralph, a screwball farce with a novel setting.
Ralph finds fun in the outside-the-arcade-game life of the characters trapped in those games, forced to play hero, pawn or villain forever. Or until the game falls out of favor and the power is shut off.
The cartoon-voiced John C. Reilly gives life to Ralph, a beast in a Donkey Kong-ish kiddie game titled Fix-It Felix. Felix, played by Jack McBrayer, repairs this wonderful apartment building for all his friends to live in. Hulking Ralph, 9 feet tall and 643 pounds, lives in the brick pile by the dump and wrecks stuff Felix has to fix. This has been going on for decades.
He's had enough, he tells his video-game villains (Bad-Anon) support group. He's skipping out after hours, finding his way to a game where HE can be the hero.
Ralph has plenty of places to go for glory. Let's start with a first-person shooter game titled Hero's Duty, where Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch, hilarious) leads her digital commandos into battle against alien cy-bugs.
Then there's a place where kitten whiskers would be welcome, the girly Candyland of Sugar Rush, where Ralph runs afoul of Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). She's smart alecky and spunky and somehow going to figure into Ralph's dreams of glory. If only Raph can avoid getting dragged back to Fix-It Felix before the game is unplugged.
Ralph shows many Pixar house touches: a solid story, dazzling detail, inventive settings. And there's a message bland enough to not offend everyone.
I will not be good, and that's not bad. There's no one I would rather be than me.
What: Wreck-It Ralph
Starring: The voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer
Directed by: Rich Moore
Running time: 98 minutes plus a delightful eight-minute short
Rated: PG for rude humor and mild action/violence