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(2012) (voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman) (PG)

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Animated Action/Comedy: A video game character leaves his arcade game in hopes of becoming a hero rather than the villain he's played for the past thirty years.
For the past 30 years, Wreck-It Ralph (voice of JOHN C. REILLY) has been the villain in the arcade game "FIX-IT FELIX JR!" where he wrecks a several story building, only to have the game's hero, Fix-It Felix (voice of JACK McBRAYER), repair all of the damage with his magic hammer. But Ralph has grown disillusioned with his role, especially since once the game play is done for the day, he must retreat to the nearby brick dump for the night, all while Felix enjoys the congratulations and company of the game's other characters.

Even his support group of fellow arcade game villains can't boost his spirits. But when one of the building residents says he'll be welcome at their parties if he can prove he can be a hero by winning a medal, Ralph goes rogue and leaves his game. When he comes across a soldier character from the arcade game "Hero's Duty," he takes that man's place and fights alongside platoon leader Sergeant Calhoun (voice of JANE LYNCH), blasting the voracious and deadly Cy-Bug monsters.

He manages to secure a medal by breaking the rules, but when a newly hatched Cy-Bug attacks him, he ends up losing control of a spacecraft and accidentally flies out of "Hero's Duty" and into "Sugar Rush," a pastel, candy-based, cart racing game. There, he runs into Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of SARAH SILVERMAN), a girl who's considered a glitch by others and thus not allowed to compete in the big race overseen by the game's ruler, King Candy (voice of ALAN TUDYK).

Ralph and Vanellope's goals collide when she uses his medal as an entry coin into the race. From that point on, he tries to get that back, all while Felix tries to find Ralph and thus avoid their game being shut down, all while Sgt. Calhoun shows up, knowing full well the potential ramifications of the escaped Cy-Bug on those inside the "Sugar Rush" game.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
I took some acting classes in college, but I never appeared in any stage play then or later, nor have I acted in any TV or film production. It's not exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciate the work of those who entertain or move us via their work. That's especially true because it's a lot harder than it appears (in terms of making it appear natural), while it can often also involve long and sometimes grueling hours of rehearsal and then production.

While I can understand why most performers want to branch out and play parts in a variety of roles and genres, I'm always amazed at those who not only play the same character day in and day out, but also deliver the exact same lines day after day, for weeks, months and sometimes years. I'm referring, of course, to theater performers who might be able to provide some nuance here and there, but otherwise would -- at least in my opinion -- end up bored out of their minds and/or driven crazy by saying and doing the same thing over and over again.

But they have nothing on a guy named Ralph who's appeared as the destructive, and literally and figuratively two-dimensional villain who repeatedly says, "I'm gonna wreck it!" while moving from floor to floor of a several story apartment building causing property damage with his enormous fists. He doesn't just do this daily, but has done so multiple times every day, for the past 30 years.

Of course, he's just a computer game character whose actions are completely controlled by his software coding. And by his very nature, he doesn't actually think nor have a soul. Or does he? Along the lines of what was done so fabulously in the "Toy Story" movies -- where dolls and toys pretended to be inanimate whenever humans were around but behaved like humans (with all of their foibles, insecurities and such) when in the company of their own kind -- we now have a similar look at video game characters in "Wreck-It Ralph."

If that sounds like something the folks at Pixar would crank out with tons of fun and creative touches and details, you might be surprised that it's actually a Disney film, and a highly entertaining one at that. Not that there's reason to doubt the potential output from the great Mouse House, but their computer-animated offerings never quite matched what Pixar pumped out. So they went out, bought Pixar and put one of its top directors/producers, John Lasseter, into the top spot of chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

The surprising thing is that while Pixar's output after the merger ("Cars 2" and "Brave") didn't match what preceded that, this offering -- where Lasseter serves as one of the executive producers -- feels more like the real deal, namely the Pixar of old. Working from a script by newcomer Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston ("Cedar Rapids"), director Rich Moore -- making his feature film debuting after helming episodes of various TV shows including "Futurama" and "The Simpsons" -- delivers plenty of fun for audiences of all ages.

And one doesn't need to be a video game junkie or aficionado to appreciate what's offered, although those who are will doubly enjoy the various references, bits of homage and such designed especially for them. I'm sure I didn't get all of them, but having grown up with Pong and the original Atari game console, not to mention spending a fair amount of my teen years feeding quarters into arcade games, I saw and appreciated many familiar "faces."

As in most such pics, the newer faces are designed to engage the kids, and that's certainly the case here, whether that be the title character (voiced by John C. Reilly), his nemesis/in-game hero (Jack McBrayer), a spunky girl racer (Sarah Silverman), or a tough, bossy and snarky soldier (who else but Jane Lynch). The chemistry among all of them -- be that from the script or the vocal interaction -- is terrific, and the fact that much of their work was done together in a recording studio (compared to the usual way of everyone recording their bits separately) clearly shows. That's especially true regarding the work between Reilly and Silverman.

Other vocal work is good, the animation is top-notch and full of intricate details, and the action and comedy is spot on. While the film loses a bit of steam near the end despite ramping up the velocity and intensity of the action-filled finale (as compared to the more inventive and clever opening act), it's still fun and entertaining to behold.

In fact, you might wish you could insert another quarter when it finally reaches "game over." Thankfully for Ralph, he won't have to keep playing and saying the same thing now that his story is on "film" and kids will undoubtedly be watching it over and over again. "Wreck-It Ralph" rates as a 7 out of 10.

Reviewed October 17, 2012 / Posted November 2, 2012

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