Wreckit200Grade:  A-
Entire family:  Yes

2012, 108 min., Color
Rated PG for rude humor, mild violence
Disney

Aspect ratio:  2.39:1
Featured audio:  DTS-HD MA 7.1
Bonus features:  C
Includes:  Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Trailer

When Wreck-It Ralph and Brave came out of Disney-Pixar studios last year, it felt like a case of babies being switched at birth. But it really WAS the Pixar gang that produced Brave, a princess fairy tale with a traditional, realistic look to it, while Disney animation gave us Wreck-It Ralph, a spunky homage to video games that depicted multiple virtual worlds.

For gamers, the fun comes from spotting allusions to such popular and historic video games as Super Mario Bros., Q*bert, Street Fighter, Pac-Man, Paperboy, Pong, Dig Dug, Qix, Frogger, BurgerTime, Sonic the Hedgehog, Metal Gear, World of Warcraft, and Altered Beast. But you don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy Wreck-It Ralph.

The premise is similar to Toy Story. Once the lights go out, the “toys” (here, characters in a video game) are off-duty and have a life of their own. It turns out that acting out these video games is their day job, and there’s a transportation terminal that takes them to and from their games at the Arcade.

Once again Disney has created an immersive world that’s rich with detail, populated by characters who have problems humans can identify with and characteristics that make them likable—even “bad guy” Ralph (John C. Reilly), who’s hurt that he wasn’t invited to the game’s 30th anniversary celebration. Just once he wants to be the guy who gets the medal at the end, rather than the hero of his game, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). If he can’t get a medal here, he’s determined to find another game where he can be the hero.

Whether it’s the pixelated single-building condo world of Fix-It Felix, the Candy Land world of Sugar Rush, or the bug-blasting Starship Troopers, Halo/Gears of War world of Hero’s Duty, Disney pulls it off. They do an especially nice job of animating those hordes of attacking bugs and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a “glitch” from the Sugar Rush game who has racecar driver DNA but can’t drive because she’s a glitch, banished by King Candy (Alan Tudyk) to the dark side of Sugar Rush. There’s some shooting, but not that much.

fix-it350Wreck-It Ralph plays out a little like a screwball comedy, with Vanellope absolutely vexing Ralph because of her energy, her enthusiasm, and her wide-eyed naiveté, with Ralph coming around as reluctantly as Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. There’s a little rom-com “opposites attract” at work here too, as Felix enters Hero’s Duty to try to convince Ralph to return, but finds his heartthrob in the tough military leader Calhoun (Jane Lynch).

The writing is clever and the worlds are wonderfully shaped, which will appeal to adults, while those with any familiarity at all with video games will get the added pleasure of all those allusions. But the plot is straightforward enough and the pacing so crisp that Wreck-It Ralph will be a hit with the kids, too. Chalk up another small victory for Disney, whose mission from the very beginning was to make movies for the whole family.

Though there aren’t a lot of bonus features, the Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray look fabulous, even if Disney opted to create greater depth within the television field rather than tossing objects at the audience. And the audio has a presence that really fills the room with sound.

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