‘Wreck-It Ralph’ surprisingly engaging flick

By Christopher K. Conner

If anyone has ever wondered happens when the lights go off at the local arcade, “Wreck-It Ralph” gives one possibility. As soon as the doors are locked, characters from the various games hop on public transport through the power cables and visit each other, have romances and attend support groups for disgruntled game villains. Ralph is one of the latter.

In his game, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain. After the stump he lives in is ripped out and left at the dump, he vows to destroy the high-rise building constructed on the spot his home once was. The hero of the game is Fix-It Felix. Felix (Jack McBrayer) repairs the damage caused by Ralph’s rampage. At the end of the game, Felix gets a medal. Ralph gets thrown off the building into a pool of mud.

After 30 years, the lack of respect is wearing on Ralph. In his support group he admits that he doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. Returning from his meeting, Ralph notices that the other characters from his game are having a party in the penthouse of their building. It’s their 30th anniversary, and Ralph realizes he was not invited to the party.

Ralph wants to earn a medal to validate himself in the eyes of the denizens of his game. At the bar, he encounters a disgruntled hero from the game “Hero’s Duty.” In that game, the players earn a medal for activating a beacon to thwart an invasion of Cy-Bugs. Ralph decides to take the place of that hero and win the medal he needs.

Because Ralph is missing from his game, the arcade owner calls for a repair man. Felix and the apartment dwellers fear that if Ralph doesn’t come back, the game it may get unplugged, leaving them without a place to live. When Q*bert comes by and tells Felix where Ralph is, Felix decides to bring him back home.

Ralph succeeds in his quest, but while fleeing a new invasion of Cy-Bugs, he hitches a ride in an escape pod that rockets him into yet another game: “Sugar Rush.” Not realizing that one of the infectious robot insects riding with him survived a pool of taffy, Ralph tries to find his missing medal.

Felix and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) from “Hero’s Duty” see the escape pod. Felix notices Ralph is flying it, and Calhoun sees the Cy-Bug. Knowing that the Cy-Bug will spread and take over any game it infects, she accompanies Felix on his quest.

In “Sugar Rush”, every day a new set of nine characters race through a candy-covered world on candy-themed cars. Under the hood, the King of Candy hosts a race every night to determine which nine characters will be playing the next day. To participate, contestants have to supply a gold coin won in a previous race.

Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) is a glitch in “Sugar Rush.” As a glitch, she is not allowed to race. When she finds Ralph’s medal, she uses it in lieu of a coin to get access to the race. Furious, Ralph wrecks much of the viewing stands chasing Vanellope. Ralph’s medal will be given as part of the prize for winning the race, so he is forced to team up with Vanellope who promises to return his medal when she wins it back.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is a surprisingly engaging animated flick. References to classic games and mechanics were well placed and amusing. The voice work fit well, and the story was cute without being too sappy.

At the end, my daughter admitted she cried at least once. In all the films I’ve taken her to over the last year, that hasn’t happened before. If you cry a lot at movies, and are embarrassed about it, you might want to go for the 3D showing so there are glasses to hide behind.

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