Steve’s Wonderful Reviews of Disney: Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Release Date: November 2nd, 2012

Inspiration: N/A

Budget: $165 million

Domestic Gross: $189.4 million

Worldwide Gross: $471.2 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

IMDB Score: 7.7/10

Storyline (per IMDB): Wreck-It Ralph longs to be as beloved as his game’s perfect Good Guy, Fix-It Felix. Problem is, nobody loves a Bad Guy. But they do love heroes… so when a modern, first-person shooter game arrives featuring tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun, Ralph sees it as his ticket to heroism and happiness. He sneaks into the game with a simple plan — win a medal — but soon wrecks everything, and accidentally unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens every game in the arcade. Ralph’s only hope? Vanellope von Schweetz, a young troublemaking “glitch” from a candy-coated cart racing game who might just be the one to teach Ralph what it means to be a Good Guy. But will he realize he is good enough to become a hero before it’s “Game Over” for the entire arcade?

Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the canon with one of the more intriguing films from the 2010s, and this is one of my more favorite films from this decade which is mainly due to the fact that I have loved video games for most of my life. It was cool seeing many of the iconic characters on the big screen and the idea of a bad guy trying to be the good guy was very intriguing, and we will see if this film still holds up well like it did when it came out back in 2012.

Voice Cast: We once again have a cast that is predominantly new with almost no returning actors aside from at least one, and that one person returning is Jess Harnell who voices Nicelander Don in a minor role. We now move onto the newcomers as we first have John C. Reilly who voices Wreck-It Ralph in his first animated film appearance, and then we have Sarah Silverman who voices Vanellope as she takes on a role that is pretty uncharacteristic of her. We then have Jack McBrayer who voices Fix-It Felix in one of his biggest roles of his career, and then we have Jane Lynch who voices Sgt. Calhoun in one of her most memorable roles aside from being in the TV show “Glee”. Next, we have Alan Tudyk who voices King Candy as he would become a staple of these films throughout the decade, and then we have Mindy Kaling who voices Taffyta Muttonfudge in one of her biggest film roles of her career. We then have Joe Lo Truglio who voices Markowski in a minor role and then we have Ed O’Neill who voices Mr. Litwak as he was hitting the twilight of his career, and then we have Dennis Haysbert who voices the holograph general in a minor role and then we have the pair of Adam Corolla and Horatio Sanz who voice the police officers Wynnchel and Duncan in minor roles. We then have Rich Moore who voices Sour Bill and Zangief in a dual role, and then we have the group of Edie McClurg, Raymond S. Persi, Rachael Harris, and Skylar Astin who voice the Nicelanders. Next, we have the group of Katie Lowes, Jamie Elman, Josie Trinidad, and Cymbre Walk who voice the racers of Sugar Rush, and then we have a variety of other actors who voice the other characters in the different video games along with the kids in the arcade. This had to have been one of, if not the largest casts in Disney history to this point just given the amount of characters in the film, and we will see if we keep with this going forward or if the upcoming films have smaller casts.

Hero/Prince: We have a very unique hero to talk about in that he’s technically not supposed to be a hero, he’s the bad guy in his game and that is Wreck-It Ralph who is the main villain of the game “Fix-It Felix Jr.”. For 30 years, life is the same for Ralph as he destroys the Nicelanders’ apartment only for Felix to fix it and Ralph is left in the mud, and Ralph begins to feel unappreciated and vows to become a hero himself despite being a bad guy. He leaves his game and heads to “Hero’s Duty” to obtain a medal which he does though he is shot out of the game along with a Cy-Bug, and they land in “Sugar Rush” where Ralph’s medal is taken by Vanellope. He tries to get it back and is captured by King Candy who tells him to leave though he helps Vanellope when the other racers destroy her kart, and Ralph helps Vanellope make a new kart and learn to race so she can win his medal back. But King Candy convinces Ralph to destroy her kart by giving him back the medal and he does which is devastating to Vanellope, and Ralph returns to his game only to learn the truth about Vanellope. He returns to “Sugar Rush” and along with Felix, they fix Vanellope’s kart though Cy-Bugs attack the game, and Ralph briefly battles with King Candy who has been absorbed by a Cy-Bug though he is able to create a makeshift beacon to destroy the bugs along with King Candy. Vanellope finishes the race and the game is reset as Ralph returns to his game in time to spare it from being unplugged, and Ralph goes back to his normal life a lot happier and with a new best friend in Vanellope. Ralph is interesting in that he is programmed to be a bad guy, but after 30 years of the same thing falls into a rut and wants to become a hero despite his programming going as far as to jump into another game. After he loses his medal, all he cares about is getting it back though he eventually forms a bond with Vanellope that is nearly destroyed, and in the end he learns that being the bad guy is not the worst thing as he is finally appreciated and has a friend. While it will be interesting to see where he ranks amongst the other heroes in the canon, he is still a great character and a good hero for this film.

Princess: Our princess to talk about in this film is someone that we don’t think is a princess when we first meet her, and her journey is a very unique one and that is the character Vanellope Von Schweetz. We first meet her when Ralph is trying to get his medal back only for her to take it so she can enter the race to become a playable character, but she is forbidden from racing due to being a glitch and the other racers destroy her kart until Ralph scares them off. Ralph agrees to help her create a new kart and race so she can win and earn Ralph his medal back, but after Ralph is given his medal back by King Candy who tells him she will die if the game is unplugged due to her glitching, Ralph destroys the kart and returns to his game though he realizes that she is supposed to be part of the game and King Candy removed her from the code. He joins up with Fix-It Felix and they repair her kart as she enters the race and is set to win, but the game is overrun by Cy-Bugs and they have to leave the game though Vanellope can’t. Ralph fights King Candy and tries to sacrifice himself to create a makeshift beacon, but Vanellope saves him as the beacon is created and the bugs are destroyed along with King Candy. She finishes the race and the game is reset as she is restored to her original status as princess of the game and everyone regains their memories, but she decides to maintain her glitch powers while decreeing that the game will be a democracy with her as President and she remains friends with Ralph. Vanellope is interesting in that everyone treats her that she is a mistake that will destroy the game without realizing that she is an integral part of the game, and despite a rough beginning with Ralph they work to help each other until King Candy tries to drive them apart. Once Ralph learns the truth, he helps Vanellope and she is restored in the game as she becomes popular with the gamers, and while she will probably not rank too high against the actual princesses she is a fun character and one of the best parts of the film.

Villain: Much like our hero is supposed to be a bad guy, the character that is the villain in this film doesn’t appear to be that way when we first meet him and that is King Candy from “Sugar Rush”. He is the ruler of the game and sets up races to determine avatars for the next day as he tries to keep Vanellope from racing, and after he meets Ralph he demands he leave though Ralph ends up helping Vanellope. Candy heads into the game’s code and retrieves the medal which he gives to Ralph while telling him that since Vanellope is a glitch, she could cause the game to be unplugged and she will die because of it since she can’t leave the game. Ralph ultimately destroys her kart to her chagrin and returns to his game though he is that Vanellope is supposed to be in the game, and he learns that King Candy manipulated the code to remove her while also wiping away the memories of all the characters in the game. Ralph and Felix repair Vanellope’s kart and she gets in the race as she encounters King Candy, and King Candy is revealed to be a former racer named Turbo who had caused his game and another game to be unplugged due to jealousy of being passed over. King Candy is absorbed by a Cy-Bug and he fights with Ralph as he vows to destroy the game and Vanellope, but Ralph creates a makeshift beacon which destroys all the bugs along with King Candy. King Candy is a typical ruler in that he considers himself the best racer even as Turbo to the point that he sabotaged another game out of jealousy, and he tries his best to manipulate Ralph into destroying Vanellope’s kart because he knows he will lose his power if Vanellope is restored to her original status. In the end, his full villainy is on display especially after being absorbed by the bug and he fights Ralph at the end, but like most villains his overconfidence becomes his downfall and he is one of the more interesting villains in the canon.

Other Characters: Obviously when you have a film like this, there are going to be a lot of characters involved including some pretty familiar characters from legendary game franchises, but there are probably only going to be a specific handful that will be important while the rest just hang in the background. The first big character to talk about is Fix-It Felix Jr., the star of his own game and the main rival to Ralph as he is loved by the Nicelanders who shun Ralph, and Felix tries to be friendly with Ralph who decides to go out and get a medal to be a hero. Felix goes after him and partners with Sgt. Calhoun as they go to “Sugar Rush” to find Ralph, and Felix starts to fall in love with Calhoun who rebuffs him due to what happened to her previous boyfriend. Felix is arrested and thrown in jail though he is saved by Ralph and they try to help Vanellope get in the race, and in the end Felix and Ralph return in time to save their game and they become friends as Felix marries Calhoun. We then have Sgt. Tamora Jean Calhoun who is the main hero of “Hero’s Duty” and after Ralph takes a medal and is ejected from the game along with a Cy-Bug, she leaves the game and joins with Felix as they head to “Sugar Rush” to find them. Felix starts to fall in love with Calhoun though she has painful memories of her previous boyfriend who is killed by bugs on their wedding day, and when the bugs overwhelm “Sugar Rush” she tires to help fight them off while saving the inhabitants until Ralph manages to create the beacon to destroy them. Everyone returns to their original game and Calhoun finally returns her love for Felix as they get married with Ralph and Vanellope being their best man and maid-of-honor. We then have the Nicelanders of “Fix-It Felix Jr.” who idolize Felix and hate Ralph to the point that they don’t want him there during their anniversary party, and after Ralph leaves the game is deemed out of order and after Felix leaves, they abandon the game preparing for it to be unplugged. However, Felix and Ralph return in time and the game is spared as the Nicelanders start being nice to Ralph and recognize him for his importance to the game. Next, we have the characters of “Sugar Rush” including the racers who are mean to Vanellope and try to prevent her from racing, and we also have the police officers Wynnchel and Duncan along with King Candy’s assistant Sour Bill who try to stop Vanellope from racing as they have no memory of her. After Vanellope crosses the finish line and the game is restored, their memories are restored too and everything in the game returns to normal with Vanellope as the new leader of the game. We then have the other characters from the other video games including some very recognizable characters from legendary franchises, and finally we have the few humans including the owner of the arcade Mr. Litwak and also the kids who play the games. Again, there were only a few characters that were important to the film while the rest were just there in the background, and obviously seeing some of the known characters from popular games was a good nostalgia kick that made the film feel special.

Songs: After the last few films where we reverted back to the old format of the films being treated like musicals, we go back to having a film that doesn’t have any songs though for this film it makes sense since it wouldn’t have worked as a musical film. Having said that, we do have a few songs in the film including the well-known songs “Celebration” from Kool and the Gang as well as “Shut Up and Drive” from Rihanna, but again those won’t be included since they obviously weren’t written for the film. The first song in the film is not so much a song, but a theme as we have the theme for “Sugar Rush” which we hear briefly in the film before hearing the full version during the credits, and it is a fun song that feels like a good compliment to the game. We then have the song “When Can I See You Again?” heard during the credits and it is another good song, and finally we have “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” also heard during the credits and again it is a fine song to play during the credits. Again, these songs worked fine as songs to play during the credits and won’t rank that high amongst the more well-known songs, but they are still good for this film.

Plot: On the surface, the premises of the film is a fairly interesting one in that the bad guy of a video game tries to become the good guy, and it is also unique seeing the world of these characters when the arcade closes and they are allowed to free roam. It is also very interesting seeing a combination of old-school 8-bit characters interact with more modern games and their characters, and seeing the crossover of these games makes it feel really special especially for fans of video games. In the film, Ralph is the villain of “Fix-It Felix Jr.” though he longs to be a good guy and vows to get a medal from another game to do so, and he jumps into “Hero’s Duty” and obtains a medal though he is shot out of the game along with a Cy-Bug and they land in the racing game “Sugar Rush”. While Felix and Sgt. Calhoun look for them, Ralph loses his medal to Vanellope who uses it to enter a race though she is rejected because she is a glitch, and Ralph agrees to help Vanellope by helping create a new kart for her and training her to race so she can win the medal back. The ruler of the game, King Candy gives the medal back to Ralph and tells him he has to prevent Vanellope from racing otherwise the game will be unplugged and she will die because of it, and Ralph does destroy the kart to her chagrin and he returns to his game only to realize that Vanellope does belong in “Sugar Rush”. He returns and reunites with Felix as they fix the kart and she enters the race as they discover King Candy is the rogue Turbo, and the game is overrun by bugs and they evacuate everyone though Vanellope can’t leave. Ralph battles briefly with King Candy who was absorbed by a bug and he manages to create a makeshift beacon that destroys the bugs and King Candy, and after Vanellope crosses the finish line the game is reset and she is restored in the code though she maintains her glitch abilities. Felix and Ralph return to their game in time to save it from being unplugged as Ralph becomes more appreciated and Felix marries Calhoun while Ralph and Vanellope become best friends. Considering that the whole hook of the film when it came out was seeing the world of video games, it did end up being a good story about a bad guy who finally comes to terms with who he really is while becoming a hero in other ways and it brings a level of humility to the film.

Random Watching Thoughts: Cool seeing the opening logo done in 8-bit and even the music is in 8-bit; Ralph being pretty specific about his weight; You can definitely tell that “Fix-It Felix Jr.” was heavily influenced by “Donkey Kong”; We never do learn much about Fix-It Felix Sr. other than he gave his hammer to Felix; The high score of the game is 120,501 points; Some classic games here including “Asteroids”, “Space Invaders”, “Pac-Man”, “Street Fighter”, “Centipede”, “Frogger”, “Tapper”, and others, I love seeing the evolution of the games from the classic arcade cabinets to the more modern games like the shooter games and racing games; Even inside the game, everything has an 8-bit feel to it; When Ralph smashes the bricks, the clouds take the shape of 8-bit squares; We have Alcoholics Anonymous and Gambling Anonymous and now we have Bad Guy Anonymous; Bad-Anon: One Game at a Time; Some classic villains here like Bowser, Dr. Robotnik, Clyde, M. Bison, Zangief, and others; Why is Clyde the only ghost from “Pac-Man” there?; Ralph saying he doesn’t want to be a bad guy causes Clyde to go blue; Everyone talking about going Turbo though no one in the audience knows who Turbo is; I also like how all the characters are modeled to match the game they are in; Of all the places to have the Bad-Anon meeting, they choose “Pac-Man”; Ralph gets 100 points for taking the cherries; They actually have a sign for the restroom in “Pac-Man”; So each game’s plug acts like a subway and the outlet is basically like the grand terminal station; There are so many characters in the station that it’s easy to miss some recognizable faces; It seems reasonable to think Ralph is always stopped; A public service announcement from Sonic the Hedgehog; Poor Q-Bert and his friends are game-less; Ralph even gets stopped going back into his own game; The DJ of the party was heavily modeled after DJ Skrillex; So Pac-Man wasn’t in his own game because he was invited to the party; 8-Bit dance break; Leave it to Mario to be fashionably late; It seems like Felix does want to have Ralph involved, but because the Nicelanders want nothing to do with Ralph he has to keep on their good side; Felix still dies and regenerates even if no one is playing the game; Ralph makes a good point that he is an important part of the game; That’s a lot of cake to make if each apartment is a different flavor; Even the icing is in 8-bit; The cake gets completely destroyed yet the characters on top of it escaped unharmed; Tapper served a lot of people in such a short time; Mario left one of his mushrooms behind at Tapper’s; That solider cracked quickly if he’s acting like this after only being plugged in for a week; He’s also seen too many bugs if a cockroach freaks him out; Did he really think Q-Bert wasn’t going to rat him out?; I appreciate making Suzy feel special for her 5th birthday, but you could’ve at least spelled her name right; Quarter Alert; I know $2 seems like a lot to play “Hero’s Duty”, but most shooter games at arcades are roughly that much; It’s good to know that Ralph loves his mama; It is pretty cool how you are inside the game and can see the player on the outside; Ralph is all excited until he sees what he’s up against; “Hero’s Duty” is a pretty intense game and Ralph thought it would be like “Centipede”; That girl looks so confused as to what is going on in the game; The beacon is basically a giant bug zapper; The first rule of “Hero’s Duty” according to Ralph: “No cuts, no buts, no coconuts”; I’ve been to many arcades in my time and I never remember kids putting quarters on games to signify that they are next to play; The dialogue bubble still shows up even though Ralph isn’t there to say it; They tell Felix to fix it yet there is nothing to fix; If you’re playing a game and the joystick starts moving by itself, you shouldn’t be so calm about it like that girl is; Litwak doesn’t have many nice things to say about his nana; I like how the “Out of Order” sign has the arcade cabinet look all sick with a water bottle on its top and a thermometer in its screen; Only now do they realize how important Ralph is to the game; Since when could Felix speak Q-Bert’s language?; They went berserk on Felix thinking he was a bug; Felix was smitten with Calhoun the minute he laid eyes on her; She says that nothing gets past her yet she failed to realize that Ralph was in the armor the whole time; That was some good maneuvering by Ralph to avoid those eggs with his big feet; He obviously doesn’t hate Felix since he imagines Gene in the dump and not Felix; He’s so proud of himself that he forgets about the eggs; The general is still giving his speech while Ralph struggles with the bug; As the ship went into “Sugar Rush”, it hit Sonic who was nearby and he lost his rings; “Sugar Rush” looks like a diabetic’s worst nightmare; Vanellope just happened to be hanging out on that tree; Your breath would have to be really bad to make someone’s ears numb; So double stripe branches disappear; That branch Ralph hangs onto is double-striped, yet it doesn’t disappear until Vanellope mentions it; A chicken hawk in a coop of crippled roosters; Of all the times not to do a perimeter check, you would choose the day of your wedding; So “Sugar Rush” is basically “Mario Kart” mixed together with “Candy Land”; Taffyta has her own audience section; Sour Bill looks like he would be anywhere else; You can tell that King Candy drew a lot of inspiration from the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland”; So they have a prelim race to determine who the 9 racers for the day will be while the arcade is closed; These names are only ones you would find in a game like this; Ralph got stuck through a lot of sweets to end up like that; If Vanellope thinks she’s going to win in that kart she has, she’s in for a rude awakening; We get a nice call to “The Wizard of Oz” with a group of Oreo soldiers actually saying “Oreo”; King Candy’s kart is also part of his throne; King Candy makes it a point that the color is salmon and not pink; The audience is probably thinking “Who is this Turbo they keep mentioning?”; Children of the candy corn; “Fungeon”; The Devil Dogs; We hear the breathing of Darth Vader while Ralph is under chocolate; Ralph is angry to see Vanellope until he sees the racers destroy her kart and he scares them away; Pixslexia; It must’ve been interesting for Sarah Silverman to voice Vanellope knowing the kind of humor that she was famous for and she obviously couldn’t do that in a Disney film; Not even a jawbreaker can stand up to Ralph’s wrecking skills; Calhoun has no mercy for Ralph if she says she would’ve slapped his corpse; 45 minutes into the film and we finally hear about the story of Turbo; Saying Turbo was jealous is the understatement of the year; Keeping the continuity of the double stripe branches disappearing; Nesquik-sand; Laffy Taffy vines; Calhoun slaps him hard in the face to damage him and he uses his own hammer to fix it; The taffy tries to make things romantic only for Calhoun to scare them off; The Kart Bakery; The guard is letting out actual “z’s”; No Glitches; Ralph pushed that a little too hard; To be fair, Vanellope did ask for a lot of frosting and that’s what she got; He’s dreaming of cream puffs until he realizes the factory has been used; All this time Vanellope neglected to mention that she doesn’t know how to drive a kart; King Candy wasn’t hurt, the icing just glazed him; Diet Cola Mountain; “Diet Cola Hot Springs – Watch Out for Falling Mentos”; She bundles herself up like a homeless lady; Make your own makeshift track with Wreck-It Ralph; He gets the two pedals right, but doesn’t know the third one is the clutch which means this kart has a stick shift; She picked up on it really quickly; I just now realized that Vanellope has sprinkles in her hair; So the code to get into the core of the game is the Konami Code and the keypad is a Nintendo game controller; He made sure to make his profile in the code the biggest; A key moment here in that we see Vanellope’s profile in there as well indicating she is part of the game; Felix is just head over heels in love; Calhoun being told she’s a dynamite gal triggers PTSD of her former boyfriend; Who wouldn’t love a brat with dirty hair?; Ralph wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses on, but he would hit a guy with glasses; King Candy does make a pretty convincing case about what would happen to Vanellope if the game is unplugged; Ralph wanted to be a hero and now he is faced with a tough decision; “You’re My Hero”; As soon as you see that medal she made for him, you know it’s going to hurt even more when Ralph does what he does; Vanellope telling Ralph that he is a bad guy is like a knife right through the heart; Ralph didn’t want to be alone in the garbage anymore yet now he is alone in the penthouse; Ralph’s got quite the arm if he can throw the medal so far that it hits the screen; It’s lucky the paper fell aside so he could see Vanellope on the side of the cabinet; That’s not a Tootsie Pop Ralph, get your candy straight; Talk about a traumatic experience for Sour Bill; She finally gets the scanner working and realizes the place is crawling with bugs and eggs; Doomsday and Armageddon had a baby; Felix tries to be like Ralph and ends up strengthening the bars; Why do you fix everything you touch? Because you’re Fix-It Felix, of course; Felix says Ralph doesn’t know what it’s like to be treated like a criminal when Ralph is literally a bad guy in their game; They made sure to get chains that were glitch-proof; A section for assorted fans and a section for assorted fans with nuts; The pie-shaped kart gets hit with a scoop of ice cream and turns into a real slice of pie; “A La Mode!!”; Sweet Seekers; Cherry Bombs; Vanellope manages to land on the track and the other three land in the cupcakes; I can’t believe that Nintendo or someone hasn’t partnered with Disney to create a real version of “Sugar Rush”; The track on the inside of the ice cream mountain is a clear homage to Rainbow Road from “Mario Kart”; I’m sure there were many gasps in the audience when King Candy was revealed to be Turbo; Nasty crash there for Vanellope; “Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow…Come Back Soon”; Vanellope is ready to accept her fate; Some quick thinking by Ralph on how to make a beacon; Wouldn’t now be a good time for Ralph to use his rapid punches to bring the Mentos down quicker?; Everyone thought Turbo was gone when the bug ate him forgetting that the bugs merge with whatever they eat; “I’m bad and that’s good, I will never be good and that’s not bad, there’s no one I’d rather be than me”; I had wondered at first how Vanellope could drive her kart if it was damaged, but now I see she has a different one; It is fun that they included a reference to the fact that soda explodes when Mentos are dropped into it; Turbo tries to fight it, but his King Candy and bug side are too strong to resist; Ralph has hated chocolate all his life until this point; The little hearts pop up when Felix and Calhoun kiss; A little homage here to “Cinderella” as Vanellope returns to her original status as a princess and to “Beauty and the Beast” when the game is restored as is everyone’s memories; Sour Bill still stuck to that lollipop; You think Vanellope will be forgiven at first until she says that everyone who was mean to her will be executed, but then she reveals she was joking yet Taffyta can’t stop crying; So she gets restored to the code yet is able to maintain her glitch abilities; “Sugar Rush” goes from being a kingdom to a democracy; Vanellope is willing to let Ralph stay with her even though it means his game would be unplugged; I wonder how many names they would’ve gone through had Felix not told Ralph they had to leave; That maintenance looks so annoyed that he was called out to take care of the game, but now he doesn’t have to; Now he smiles when he gets tossed off the roof; That’s a lot of characters to add to the game; If that shack was for him, it seems a bit small; Vanellope was probably annoyed she had to wear that dress again; This time, they are taking no chances with bugs invading the wedding; Ralph realizes that you don’t need a medal to be a good guy; This has to be my favorite set of credits to this point; It’s obvious they took footage from “Doom” and rescanned it for “Hero’s Duty”; Nice close as they have the logo glitch out to the kill screen.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, this ended up being a really good film and I don’t think it gets talked about enough when we talk about the films from this decade. Obviously, there are a few films still to come that get a lot of buzz and love for good reason, but this was still a fun film and I would even argue it might be considered underrated even though it is only 8 years old. As I mentioned, being a long time lover of video games was a big plus for me to enjoy this film a lot, but even still I would say that it could match up with some of the classics of the past. The 2010s have been a good decade as these last three films felt like breaths of fresh air from the 2000s, and as we continue on we will hit a few films that many consider some of the best of all time. As for this film, it is a fantastic film and one that is still a personal favorite of mine from this most recent string of Disney films.

Final Grade: 8.5/10